by  Mitsu Fisher 

Dear Councilmember Schaaf,

My wife and I own property, live and vote in District 4. We are raising two children and live on Forest Hill Avenue. Yesterday, a person who is not a sworn law enforcement officer discharged a firearm in my neighborhood (see article).

I have a few questions for you as my representative:

First, will there be an investigation by the Oakland Police Department or any other law enforcement agency, of this incident?  If so, how do we get progress reports and a copy of the final report? If not, why not?

Second, if a person who is not a sworn law enforcement officer discharges a weapon in the city of Oakland, that results in the accidental death of a child riding his or her bicycle, who happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, or any person for that matter, are the people who hired and pay for the services of the shooter, legally responsible in any way?

Third, what governmental agencies, if any, are responsible for regulating the possession and use of firearms by private citizens who are not sworn law enforcement officers? Please provide contact details.

Fourth, since this shooting resulted in an injury that will require medical treatment, who pays for that? Because medical treatment can be quite costly, I want to know if the tax-paying citizens of Oakland pay for the treatment, assuming the victim does not have health insurance that covers being a shooting victim.  Or, are the people who hired the shooter responsible for these costs?

My fifth and final question is for you as an elected official. Do you approve of your neighbors paying people to discharge firearms in your neighborhood?  Does that seem like a good idea to you?

I look forward to a prompt written response from you, that addresses each of my five questions.

Sincerely,

Mitsu Fisher

Editor’s Note: This piece reflects an individual opinion and is not a reported story from Oakland Local. Oakland Local invites community residents to share their views about events and issues in Oakland. For guidelines, see:http://oaklandlocal.com/guidelines/

26 Responses

  1. Adam Ross of West Oakland

    First off: The Guard was 100% right in shooting the robber, if the robber would of died as a result of the wound it would of been well deserved. The Security Guard has been empowered by the Department of Justice and the F.B.I to carry a Firearm on duty while also simultaneously having the power to arrest people. The Security Guards responsibility is to defend: Life and Property.

    Reply
  2. James

    This open letter so clearly NOT going off half-cocked, as Rayon says. Yes, the author is obviously unhappy with the situation, but the questions are all fair ones and ought to be answered. Maybe there are good answers to them, but this is a new situation and it needs more clarity. And anyway, maybe the guy who got shot is innocent. Maybe not, but who knows. Even highly trained police officers make mistakes sometimes, I’ve heard.

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  3. FrankZ

    These private security guards are suppose to have a license or permit to carry a gun. Though I applaud the guard who shot while being threatened by the thieve, I thought the security patrol called the police to arrest the suspect.

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  4. William Racer

    This s complete and utter non-sense! The security officer was almost stabbed! Where is the logic? Damn if you do, damn if you don’t. He was doing his job. There was just an 81 year old lady that was shot, where is the outrage? Please let me know where you live and we can direct the robber there so he will be greeted with open arms. Thank you security officer keep protecting our neighborhood. Please get a life and get off your soap box because you have no CLUE! Council Member Schaaf I would not respond to this person who has an agenda.

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  5. Ann

    BAY ALARM RESPONSE AND/OR PATROL AGREEMENT
    10. BAY IS NOT AN INSURER: LIQUIDATED DAMAGES:
    LIMITATION OF LIABILITY:
    …THEREFORE
    YOU AGREE: Even if a court decides that our breach of this Agreement, our negligence, or a failure of the service caused or allowed any harm or damage (whether property damage, personal injury or death) to you or anyone in your premises, you agree that our liability shall be limited to the less of $1500.00 or 12 times the monthly service fee as liquidated damages and not as a penalty,and this shall be your only remedy regardless of what legal theory (including without limitation: breach of contract, negligence, products liability or breach of warranty)is used to determine that Bay or assignees are liable for the injury or loss.

    Reply
  6. mtanaka

    Good questions to ask.

    right or wrong, voters in District 4 and all of Oakland need to know the facts.

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  7. Julie Quiroz

    Thank you Mitzu for voicing really thoughtful concerns that are shared by so many others like myself. I have seen the incredible ugliness targeted at anyone who speaks up regarding the private patrols, so am deeply grateful for your courage.

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  8. PS

    Do you really want the answers to these questions or do you want to be controversial? I spent 2 minutes online and can already answer #3 -https://oag.ca.gov/firearms. #1 – who knows considering the severe staffing shortage within OPD! #2 – is a hypothetical question. #4 – If the criminal had fallen out of a window or off a ladder while breaking in and been seriously injured who would be responsible then? #5 – is a false question. What I approve of is neighbors taking initiative to protect each other since the police department is currently made unable to.

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  9. rayon

    Yes. Half-cocked.

    The writer doesn’t even know what happened yet. Info is already coming out to make some of the letter obsolete.

    If the letter has already been sent to Shaaf’s office, what purpose is served by publishing it here?

    Some of the language is nutty. For example, “paying people to discharge firearms.”

    I say, first, let the story unfold so you know what you are talking about. Then draft a letter if you still feel it is still needed. And, by all means, have a few level-headed people review it.

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  10. Oakie

    @Ann
    To my understanding, this letter was written by Ann Namura and she posted this letter on the Dimond List. Based on comments on that list, she does have a small following of like minded folks on the list who are quick to conclusions and slow at retractions of false information. Her motto seems to be “please don’t let the facts interfere with my beliefs.” Perhaps Dan Siegel could adopt this as his campaign slogan. [And make no mistake about it, this town is cockablock full of left wing lunatic fringe that will vote for him.]

    For example, you can see her comment quoting from the Bay Alarm standard agreement for private security services. But, in fact, Bay Alarm has nothing to do with this incident, involving Code 3 Security. She does acknowledge that fact, but then proceeds with “but anyway” and carries on without nary a hiccup. Life would be so much simpler if I could just wish away unhelpful facts.

    It does seem that there are many of these people in Oakland who clearly do not believe in the Second Amendment right to arm yourself in self defense as a law abiding citizen. It’s worth noting these same people seem to never get very agitated about these criminals who possess arms illegally (except to quickly conclude the fault lies in the citizens who own too many guns, who happen to not be criminals).

    This lack of enthusiasm for the Second Amendment would be perfectly fine if you lived in Berkeley, or Alameda, or San Leandro or Emeryville, where the likelihood of being exposed to violence resembles normalcy. But we live in Oakland, with the 4th worst rate of murder, and the highest rate of armed robbery in the country. (Our per capita murder rate is comparable to civilian death rates in Iraq and Afghanistan.) This incident happened about 4 blocks away from the home of that 81 year old woman who was shot in the shoulder during a home invasion robbery. Btw, I haven’t seen Ann make a comment on the Dimond List admonishing that criminal for shooting someone in their own home and demanding the maximum penalty for the perpetrator. Hm.

    I have never had any interest in owning or using a gun. Nor do I now. But after living in this war zone for 30 years, I have gradually learned to sympathize, at minimum, with those who choose to arm themselves against this very real threat to safety.

    I have zero knowledge of this Code 3 security guard or the particulars of this incident, other than what we have all read in the published reports. But I do believe this person has a constitutional right of self protection when he is performing his job, a job you probably would never choose to do and certainly not for the very low wages he is paid.

    Maybe I am wrong on the law, perhaps he does not have that right, and if so I stand corrected. But what I do know is that this man is performing a very dangerous job in a very violent city with next to no hope that OPD would be responsive and protect his life if that particular (alleged) criminal happened to have a gun and happened to be inclined to use that gun on the guard. That did not happen in this case. But this guard risked that possibility without any knowledge as to whether the guy was carrying a gun.

    The other argument used by some of these folks is that the guard should not have pursued the (alleged) criminal. Gosh, do we not still retain the right, as law abiding citizens, to pursue criminals in the act? Isn’t this an act to be commended as bravery in the face of crime? Have we really lost the right to defend ourselves? If so, what a dystopia you have envisioned for us and created in fact, in our home town.

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  11. Melvin Jenkins

    Answers to his questions:
    Will there be an investigation by the Oakland Police Department or any other law enforcement agency, of this incident?

    Duh. Yes.

    If so, how do we get progress reports and a copy of the final report? If not, why not?

    You don’t get progress reports from an ongoing police investigation. Either there’s an indictment or there isn’t. When that decision is made, there will be either an indictment or a statement from OPD or the DA as to why wasn’t an indictment.

    Second, if a person who is not a sworn law enforcement officer discharges a weapon in the city of Oakland, that results in the accidental death of a child riding his or her bicycle, who happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, or any person for that matter, are the people who hired and pay for the services of the shooter, legally responsible in any way?

    That’s a complicated question, and a loaded question. It seems like mostly, what he’s saying is “I am afraid my kid might get shot”. Hey Mr. Hill Dweller, guess what, so is every parent in the flats, every goddamn night.

    An answer to the actual question: No, it’s likely the security company is responsible, and they’re only responsible if the accidental shooting was negligent. If a guard shoots at someone who’s about to stab him, and the bullet misses and hits a kid, that’s not negligent, that’s a sound reason to shoot and rotten luck that the kid got hit.

    However, in this case it looks like the guard wasn’t authorized to have a gun by his company. If he’d accidentally hit the kid, that would probably be on him.

    In any case, holding the people who hired the company liable in court is a long shot. It seems like the author wants the answer to be that his neighbors are liable. Sorry buddy, probably not.

    Third, what governmental agencies, if any, are responsible for regulating the possession and use of firearms by private citizens who are not sworn law enforcement officers? Please provide contact details.

    Sir, there is a thing called Google. You can find this out yourself. But to save you the hassle, because you’re so lazy, California state law differentiates between common citizens and security guards as far as gun possession and use goes.

    Security guards are licensed by the California Bureau of Security and Investigative Services. And individual guard working for an agency must have certain certifications to carry a firearm while on duty. There are very specific circumstances in which carrying that firearm is lawful.

    A civilian who wishes to carry a firearm in public must apply for a concealed carry permit with the sheriff of the county he or she lives in. Alameda county rarely grants permits, but there is a 2nd Amendment court case in the works that could change that. The gun rights activists just won at the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, and the case will likely go to a pro-gun SCOTUS.

    A civilian who shoots somebody in California basically has to show that they had no alternative in order to stop a potentially lethal threat. They have to reasonably fear for their life. And that applies to all lethal force, not just guns. If you run over an armed man with your car, same deal. If you stab a burglar with a kitchen knife or beat him with a rake, same deal.

    Fourth, since this shooting resulted in an injury that will require medical treatment, who pays for that? Because medical treatment can be quite costly, I want to know if the tax-paying citizens of Oakland pay for the treatment, assuming the victim does not have health insurance that covers being a shooting victim. Or, are the people who hired the shooter responsible for these costs?

    If the shooting wasn’t reasonable or was questionable, the guy who got shot, in this circumstance, can probably sue the shooter.

    Can he sue the neighbors who hired the guards? Maybe, but to get anywhere, he’d probably have to prove that the neighbors made a negligent choice in which security company to hire, and it’s pretty clear that didn’t happen. They hired a licensed, bonded firm, who in turn hired a licensed guard who wound up being a cowboy who violated the terms of his own license. That isn’t your neighbors’ fault.

    Can you sue your neighbors? No. All that happened to you is that somebody near you got shot and wounded. Welcome to Oakland buddy.

    My fifth and final question is for you as an elected official. Do you approve of your neighbors paying people to discharge firearms in your neighborhood? Does that seem like a good idea to you?

    Dude, the neighbors didn’t pay anybody specifically to discharge a firearm. Calm down. Again, it looks like a guard who wasn’t authorized to carry a gun decided to carry one anyway. He could be prosecuted for it. If it’s true that he acted in reasonable self defense, he could be prosecuted for illegally carrying a firearm, but not for using it, because he had a reason to use it.

    Like some questions above, this is rather passive aggressive. If you’re mad that your neighbors hired guards, and your neighbors aren’t Alex Trebek, it’s better not to phrase your missives in the form of a question.

    Reply
  12. Mojojo81

    Thank you for a great response and common sense that is clearly lacking amongst these FAAAAARRRRR leftist extremists. I am left of center, but this is INSANITY.

    Reply
  13. R2D2II

    As far as I know, having read CM Schaaf’s email newsletters to her constituents, Schaaf is fully in support of hiring private security to provide protection to the relatively privileged neighborhoods which can afford such services.

    Many people would disagree, and I think reasonably, with this perspective. It means essentially that the better-off you are in Oakland the better-off you will remain as a matter of policy.

    Voters need to keep such policy matters in mind when considering whom to vote for for Mayor next fall and also whom to vote for to replace CM Schaaf.

    Reply
  14. melvin jenkins

    How can you prevent private citizens from pooling their money hiring private security in a town that isn’t secure? How can any politician oppose this?

    Oakland does not have enough police, and the police it does have spend many more person-hours in the flats than they do in the hills.

    Are you going to blame the neighbors who hired security because one of the guards at a well respected security guard company may or may not have broken the rules?

    If you want to talk about “going off half cocked”, talk about the moral panic that some posters are creating around this incident before the details and investigation of the incident are clear and complete.

    How does anybody blame Councilmember Schaaf, who supported her constituents hiring unarmed security but didn’t give them any funding to do so, for the fact that one of the guards showed up armed when he wasn’t supposed to?

    There are indeed moral questions about wealthier homeowners hiring their own security. They would be bigger questions if the security was supposed to be armed and interventionist. (These guards were supposed to be unarmed watchers.)

    Those moral questions are hard to solve. Perhaps what should happen is that prop 13 should be repealed so that homeowners who’s home values go up have to pay more taxes, and those taxes should go to hiring enough cops for Oakland to have a fully staffed police force. But that isn’t happening anytime soon, and if it did, it could force retirees to leave their homes because they can’t afford property tax.

    It’s a moral mess for sure, but it seems very hard to come up with a chain of reasoning that blames Schaaf or the homeowners for this shooting.

    I don’t see how anyone is at fault here except possibly the burglar who got shot, if he in fact was violent, and possibly the guard who shot him, if he in fact had an unauthorized firearm, or if he shot without good justification.

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  15. James Miller

    While the tone of the piece clearly shows that the author is not in favor of armed security patrols, that does not mean that the questions are not legitimate or worth answering. The point of the piece is to put Councilmember Schaaf on the spot, and that’s the author’s, and all of our, right.

    Armed vs unarmed is a significant divide among those who support private security guards, such as myself. In my neighborhood, Rockridge, the guards are unarmed and there has been some positive public safety benefit. The original proposal here was to have them armed, but the organizers, to their credit, heard community concerns and went with unarmed patrols.

    I think a big part of that was fear that something the author fears would happen: a security guard would fire at someone attacking them (which is the only time guards are to use their firearms), miss, and hit an innocent. That hasnt happened yet, and didnt happen here, but every time a gun is fired is an opportunity for something like that to happen.

    I guess my ideal state would be that the security patrols or the neighbors would catch and beat criminals up to deter them from coming back. I must say, I dont care so much that this guy got shot in the leg, and there is part of me that hopes that thieves decided to skip Oakmore now that you can get shot up there. The deterrence effect is the whole point of security patrols, as it is the point of OPR or even, dare I say, cultural attitudes like shame. These work most of the time for most people, but there are still losers out there.

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  16. R2D2II

    ‘It’s a moral mess for sure, but it seems very hard to come up with a chain of reasoning that blames Schaaf or the homeowners for this shooting.”

    It does not seem so morally messy to me. The first ethical obligation of a local government is to provide for the safety of its citizens. This is something that Oakland’s electeds have consistently failed to do for many years. Yes they excuse themselves, like all true conservatives do, that there isn’t enough money so nothing more can be done. Money always comes first. I find this to be unethical. There is much to be done but creative thinking and following through with good public safety plans and programs is not on offer with the current group.

    Homeowners are certainly ethically justified to protect themselves in whatever way they can. But homeowners are also obligated to think about the situations of others who are not so well-off. When homeowners vote they need to consider which candidates can best look out for the interests of the city as a whole. I don’t think such candidates include Jean Quan or Libby Schaaf.

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  17. Laura Counts

    Thanks for writing this Mitsu! I appreciate it. I’d also like to hear the answers to these questions. I live in Rockridge where residents hired unarmed patrols—but only because of community outrage. The organizers of the patrol funding campaign had planned to leave it up to the security company’s discretion. Luckily the neighborhood objected. I know many people who are very unhappy about unarmed patrols here but unfortunately it seems they will continue, with no guarantee so far that they’ll remain unarmed.

    I wish lurkers would have enough character to sign their names to their comments. But I guess trolls just come with the internet.

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  18. rayon

    The neighborhood hired unarmed patrol.

    The letter is disinformation, as are many subsequent comments.

    Reply
  19. Julia Rose Wolfe

    Although I do not feel comfortable owning a weapon of my own, I support my neighbors’ rights to arm themselves and shoot a home intruder. Entering someone’s home without their consent is one of the most offensive crimes. If this security guard felt threatened for his own life, I don’t blame him for shooting the perp, either.

    Reply
  20. OaklandNative

    The neighbors had the right to hire a security guard at their expense. The security guard did the right thing in chasing off the offenders and preventing a break in.

    However, I don’t know if he could claim self-defense when he chased the one kid and cornered him. Even if the kid threatened him with that tool, could the security guard have backed off and let the kid run off? After all, the security guard is still a private citizen, not an authority of the law.

    In fact, couldn’t the kid claim self-defense? He was cornered by a man with a gun.

    So I don’t know if the 2nd Amendment really applies here.

    Reply
  21. livegreen

    We don’t know, and might never know, the truth. Especially if there are no witnesses or evidence. Then it comes down to the proven actions & credibility of both parties.

    Each could easily say something credible & different happened. The suspected burglar could claim the security guard just chased him down & shot him. The security officer could claim he chased down the suspect because he wanted to help the police catch him, etc. but the burglar turned on him with the crowbar.

    If it comes down to credibility, who has more? The D.A. is there to make the decision. We don’t have to guess and philosophize about it. Instead we can wait & see what facts/findings come out.

    Reply
  22. livegreen

    The D.A. has made their decision. Forwarded from the Dimond neighborhood list serve:

    “I just charged the burglar, who burglarized the house on Fruitvale on
    > 2/13/14, with a First Degree Burglary and use of a deadly weapon, to wit: a
    > Pry bar.
    > Also know that the same burglar was out of custody on $300,000 bail on 5
    > counts of robbery. The burglar now has 2 pending cases and all 6 (5+1)
    > counts are strikes under the 3 strikes law!
    >
    > I wanted to keep the neighborhood informed.
    >
    > Paul Hora
    > Assistant District Attorney
    > Alameda County District Attorney’s Office
    > Wiley W. Manuel Courthouse
    > 661 Washington Street, Oakland, CA 94607”

    Reply

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