A 17-year-old who was about to be questioned about some slayings this summer was killed by police after he fired a handgun at them early Wednesday, police said.
The slain teenager’s name was not released by Oakland police, but sources identified him as Ronald Brazier of Oakland. His family could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
The teenager and a friend, who was arrested early Wednesday, were wanted in connection with multiple shootings, some of them possibly fatal, in the East Oakland area during the last two months, said police spokesman Officer Roland Holmgren.
Sources said the two teenagers and a loose-knit group of associates considered themselves the “Junior Nut Cases,” playing off a rogue band of five men and one woman who in late 2002 and early 2003 committed five “thrill kills.”
One of the six gang members was sentenced to 141 years in prison earlier this year.
Police did not release the name of the officer who fired the fatal shot, but sources identified him as Robert Roche. Under department policy, he was placed on paid administrative leave pending a department investigation, Holmgren said.
The second suspect, also a 17-year-old Oakland resident, was not injured. He was arrested after a short foot chase, police said.
Sources said the teenager in custody has confessed to a shooting at 76th and Hamilton avenues Monday afternoon that left a man paralyzed.
The shooting took place on the 1400 block of 65th at International Boulevard about midnight, just a few hours after the end of National Night Out — an annual evening of block parties held to bring neighbors together to fight local crime.
“The officers saw two suspects, attempted to contact them and one of them turned and fired at the officers,” Holmgren said. “In fear for his life, the officer returned fire, striking the suspect multiple times.”
Holmgren called the shooting “an unfortunate incident.”
“It’s unfortunate the suspect forced this officer to make this decision, but he had to make it because his life was in jeopardy,” he said.
Attorney Harry Stern, who represents the Oakland Police Officers Association, said the suspect fired six shots at the three officers.
“The suspect was trying to murder three uniformed officers, and the officer involved acted completely appropriately in defending his life and those of his fellow officers,” said Stern of the Rains, Lucia and Wilkinson law firm in Pleasant Hill.
The teenager was killed with a high-powered rifle, Stern said.
Officers on the scene administered first aid and called paramedics, who took the teenager to the Highland Hospital Oakland trauma unit, where he was pronounced dead, Holmgren said.
The teenager was the 82nd person to be killed in Oakland this year. Officer-involved shootings are included in the city’s homicide tally. At this time last year there were 45 homicides.
Asked why the officer did not shoot the 17-year-old in a leg or other part of the body where a shot probably wouldn’t be fatal, Holmgren said, “The officer responded with the force that was necessary to immediately and effectively stop that threat.”
The killing comes as two powerful politicians in the city attempt to bring a new focus to crime reduction. Last month, state Sen. Don Perata, D-Oakland, unveiled a nine-point plan to reduce the violence.
Meanwhile, Oakland Mayor Jerry Brown’s campaign to be the state’s next attorney general has taken some dings because of the city’s rising homicide rate and what opponents say is his inability to fight street violence. The area where the shooting occurred was quiet Wednesday morning. Those on the streets and hanging around in front of stores said they did not know the slain teenager.
The last officer-involved shooting was in June, when police shot and killed reputed street pimp Kim “Kim Kim” Saelio, 22, who was wanted for a 2005 Vallejo homicide and was on America’s Most Wanted list. Police, who had been searching for Saelio seven months, shot him during a confrontation at the end of a car chase because he made moves as if he had a gun, officers said. Police never recovered a weapon.