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7 more die amid pleas for peace in Oakland

August 06, 2007|From the Associated Press

OAKLAND — As community leaders gathered to mourn the brazen daytime slaying of an Oakland journalist and denounce the city's chronic violence, gunfire claimed seven more lives in separate incidents since Friday.

Kevin F. Sharp Jr., 20, was watching television in his East Oakland home early Sunday when he answered a knock at his door and was shot to death, police said. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

The assailant fled, and police have no further information, Sgt. James Morris said.

Late Saturday, 25-year-old Khatari Gant died after a gunman with an assault rifle sprayed his van with bullets, police said. Gant's brother and a friend were wounded.

All three were taken to a nearby hospital, where Gant was pronounced dead, Sgt. George Phillips said.

Police arrived at a hotel near Oakland International Airport early Saturday to find Byron Mitchell, 29, of Chicago dying from a gunshot wound they believe he received while struggling with a robber.

Mitchell had come to Oakland to work as a replacement driver during a recent contract dispute between the city's garbage hauler and its drivers, Phillips said.

Jacqueline Venable, 40, was fatally shot about 11 p.m. Friday as she ate cake with friends in West Oakland, police said. The group heard gunshots nearby before Venable fell to the ground.

The deaths and three others brought the number of killings reported in Oakland since Friday morning to seven, and the year's homicides to 79. The city recorded 84 murders by this time last year, when homicides surged by about 60%.

Clergy members, politicians and colleagues who gathered Saturday near the spot where Oakland Post Editor Chauncey Bailey, 57, was gunned down two days earlier said they were tired of bloodshed. They encouraged witnesses to come forward and tell police what they know to help stem the tide of crime.

"There's this whole notion of not wanting to be labeled a snitch and fear of retribution," Oakland City Councilwoman Desley Brooks said. "We need to turn this on its head."

A 19-year-old handyman for an Oakland Black Muslim splinter group was booked Saturday in Bailey's murder. Bailey's colleagues said the journalist was investigating the finances of the organization, which is known for its chain of Your Black Muslim bakeries.

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