Police probe West Oakland, freeway shootings

OAKLAND (KTVU) -- A rash of killings in West Oakland and a freeway shooting is keeping Oakland police busy, even as the department continues its search to hire a permanent police chief.

Each violent incident makes it ever more challenging for a city trying to move past the perception that it's riddled with crime.

On Wednesday afternoon, gunfire on Interstate 580 near Fruitvale Avenue injured a man and a woman in their car and snarled the evening commute as police searched for evidence on a heavily-traveled section of the freeway.

The 26-year-old man and 29-year-old woman will survive. A relative says the family has no idea why the victims were shot. Police said Thursday that the victims' car had been deliberately targeted but did not provide a motive. No suspects have been arrested

On Monday, three men were shot and killed in West Oakland, including 19-year-old men Roderick Godfrey and Deante Miller.

In January, Godfrey attended a town hall meeting on gun violence with U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee. Lee issued a statement this week saying Godfrey "lost his life to the senseless violence he was working to prevent."

Now, Oakland police are amping up patrols. All officers in West Oakland working the swing shift are on mandatory 12-hour shifts, instead of the usual 10 hours, to help stem the violence.

Councilwoman Lynette Gibson-Mcelhaney represents West Oakland. She sat on the same panel as Godfrey and Lee. 

"I don't believe we're doing quite as enough as we need to do. I'm appreciative that OPD is rallying in response to this and added patrols to West Oakland. We really want to suppress any opportunity for any retaliation."

The recent violence comes as the city is still looking for a chief after Sean Whent resigned over his handling of the police sex exploitation scandal.

KTVU asked to speak to David Downing who, as acting assistant chief, is the department's highest ranking officer. He was not available Thursday.

Mayor Libby Schaaf also declined an on-camera interview.

But her spokeswoman issued a statement highlighting a 40-percent reduction in homicides and shootings over the past three years.

The statement says, "While Oakland is not yet as safe as it deserves to be, we have made significant progress in addressing violent crime... We know this is little consolation to the families impacted by violence and we remain firmly committed to deterring crime and holding anyone who engages in this type of behavior fully accountable."