Oakland police investigate attack outside of ice center
OAKLAND, Calif. - Oakland police are investigating another violent crime: an unprovoked attack just outside the Oakland Ice Center.
This disturbing incident was part of a weekend of violence with officers stretched thin.
Melinda Allen said she and her husband take their son to hockey practice at the Oakland Ice Center three times a week.
She said on Saturday morning around 8:20, she saw a man she didn't recognize just a few steps from her as she was trying to walk inside the building.
"We made quick eye contact and then I turned my back to open up the front door of the ice rink. I felt him punch me in the back of my head right here," Allen said. She said she's grateful she was not seriously injured, but wanted to warn others to be vigilant.
"I want people to be aware. It happened to me. It was a random act of violence," said Allen.
She showed KTVU the police report she filed and said officers arrived quickly despite telling her that they were busy responding to many calls.
"We will continue to push our staff to do a better job out there in our community," said Oakland Police Chief LeRonne Armstrong during a press conference on Monday where he addressed the rising violence.
Shootings over the weekend ended with two people killed, bringing the total number of homicides to 106 compared to 80 last year at the same time.
"Other investigators were moved from other sections over to the homicide division in order to support that priority," said Armstrong.
Adding to the department's headaches is the high number of officers leaving the force.
A total of 695 officers are on staff currently.
It's the first time the department has fallen below 700 in seven years.
"In a four day period, 10 resignations. These numbers are dwindling fast," said Armstrong, "This is very concerning for us to see officers leaving at this rate."
Allen said the attack on her is a reminder to have situational awareness.
She said she has watched her son practice at the Oakland Ice Center for the past four years and nothing like this has ever happened before.
"We all know to be on high alert at all times and to not let our guard down," Allen said. "I just happen to be at the wrong place at the wrong time."
She said her attacker ran away on foot.
Armstrong said to address the staffing shortage, he's leveraging partnerships with federal and state law enforcement, putting office staff out into the field and using overtime to fill vacant patrol positions.