Slain father remembered at Oakland vigil; family wants justice

Oakland is just one of many cities nationwide reporting a spike in homicides so far this year.

Oakland police report 51 homicides so far this year compared to 46 at this time last year.  Police investigators have solved nearly half of the homicide cases so far in 2020.

On Monday evening there was a call to stop the killings. Community leaders held a vigil near Lake Merritt.

Organizers say it's important to know the names of homicide victims to show that their lives matter.

The gathering was a show of support for those who lost their lives to gun violence in recent days.

About 100 people gathered at Mandana Plaza Park on Lakeshore Avenue to mourn the victims of recent homicides including Darius Brazell.

The 55-year-old was shot and killed just steps from the Black Lives Matter memorial at the park. 

Brazell's family describes him as a loving husband and father of five children. 

"This man took care of all the women in our family. To have his life taken and to die on these streets," Katrina Williams, Brazell's sister-in-law said.

Shortly before 6 o'clock Saturday evening, Brazell was found lying in a pool of blood by the bus stop. 

Family members say they don't know why he was in the area. 

They say he had planned to move from West Oakland to Merced last Friday, but decided to stay to finish a job on Monday. He worked as a handyman.

"Every morning, no matter sick or what, he went and made sure that he found that odd job to bring money back into our home," said Williams. 

Oakland police are working on leads and declined to release a description of the suspect, but did say he fled the immediate area on foot. 

"It was my officers who looked for the suspect and continue to look for the suspect today. And it will be Oakland police officers who bring the suspect to justice," said Oakland Police Captain Chris Bolton.  

Organizers said a vigil is important to show Brazell's life matters.  

"It's really important for us to come together to know his name, to support his family," says Oakland city council member Nikki Fortunato Bas. 

Family members said they want people to know who Brazell was.

"He's always just been a good person. He was never a person who hated nobody," said Darian Brazell, the victim's 22-year-old son. "My dad always gave. He made sure he gave to people. Never wanted anything back."  

Relatives said Brazell was not in their words "a part of the mean and evilness that goes on in the streets." 

"For him to be shot down and die like this in these streets, with nobody around and it's just wrong," said Williams.

After the vigil, family and friends placed candles at the site of where Brazell was killed.

They said it's painful to see that he was killed right by a Black Lives Matter memorial.

Now, they say they want justice.