Oakland police treated mom like criminal for firing shots to scare intruder, she says

An Oakland mother is defending her actions, after being seen on video firing her gun into the air in a residential neighborhood.

Mahagany Gillam calls herself a "mama bear" and said she was defending her home and her five sleeping children. 

Video from her Ring doorbell camera shows an intruder entering Gillam’s home in the Oakland hills in the pre-dawn hours Thursday. Gillam was in her room and heard someone open the front door. She grabbed her registered 9 mm handgun from a locked safe and followed the intruder outside.

"I’m petrified," said Gillam. "I’m still not knowing they retrieved my keys from the entry table in my door way."

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Gillam found the intruder rummaging through her car. She said she had no way of knowing the person’s intentions, or if there were more people inside. She fired several warning shots into the air.

"I discharge my firearm with a warning for this person to leave. They don’t do it," she said. Gillam said she fired several more times because she felt her only other option was to shoot the burglar, which she did not want to do. 

She said she knows firing a weapon in the air is dangerous. 

"Of course I would have been definitely devastated if it hit somebody," Gillam said. "Why not take a chance of taking a chip off a roof than putting somebody in the ground?"

Gillam’s daughter woke up and called police. Once Oakland police officers arrived, Gillam said she was treated more like a criminal than a victim. 

She said things quickly turned sour when she would not give police her registered firearm. She told police the weapon was no longer on the premises. 

"I told them, ‘well I could bring the firearm to you, because it’s not here. And I would not feel comfortable giving you the firearm after you guys delayed and with you being so shorthanded.’"

Gillam was put in handcuffs, had her phone taken away, and was served a search warrant. She said police were inside for hours looking for weapons and ammunition.

"I have two extended family members on both the left and the right," said Gillam "Both are white. I could not imagine their beautiful children being held in their living room in the same way my children were."

She said police never made an attempt to find the intruder.

KTVU reached out to the Oakland Police Department. A spokesperson said firing a gun into the air is illegal and reckless.

OPD released this information about the incident:

The Oakland Police Department (OPD) is investigating a report of shots fired in the 9800 block of Golf Links Road. Today (Thursday 2/24) at 5:00am, OPD officers responded to the area and spoke with a resident who says they saw an individual enter their home then attempted to enter their vehicle. The resident told officers they fired multiple shots in the air to scare the individual away. The individual was not struck by gun fire and left the area. The incident is actively being investigated. If anyone has any information regarding the incident they can contact OPD Felony Assault at 510-238-3426.