- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 21, 2009

OAKLAND, CALIF. (AP) - Four officers were in critical condition and a suspect dead on Saturday after gunfire at a traffic stop led to a massive manhunt that ended in a shootout, police said.

Two officers were shot in the first incident just after 1 p.m. after they stopped the suspect’s vehicle in east Oakland, said Oakland police spokesman Jeff Thomason.

The suspect fled the scene on foot into a nearby neighborhood, police said, leading to an intense manhunt by dozens of Oakland police, California Highway Patrol officers and Alameda County sheriff deputies. Streets were roped off and an entire area of east Oakland closed to traffic.

At about 3:30 p.m. officers, acting on an anonymous tip, found the suspect, who had barricaded himself in a building.

“We had SWAT officers go into that building and that’s where the second shooting took place,” said Thomason.

The suspect was killed during the exchange, and two more officers wounded.

All four officers are in critical condition at Highland Hospital, Thomason said. Dozens of people, including other officers gathered outside the hospital awaiting word of their colleagues’ condition.

Acting Oakland Police Chief Howard Jordan said the department was still investigating.

“At this point we don’t believe there are other people involved, but it’s too early to tell,” he said.

Tension between police and the community has escalated since the New Year’s Day fatal shooting of unarmed 22-year-old Oscar Grant by a transit police officer. That former Bay Area Rapid Transit officer, Johannes Mehserle, has pleaded not guilty to a murder charge.

Violent protests erupted on the streets of Oakland in the weeks after Grant’s death.

People lingered at the scene of Saturday’s traffic-stop shooting. About 20 bystanders taunted police.

A group of Oakland ministers went to the hospital to offer prayers and condolences to the family members of the injured officers and the dozens of Oakland police officers who gathered there.

They said that on Sunday morning they would urge their parishioners not to let the event tear the city apart.

Pastor Raymond Lankford, executive director of Healthy Oakland, urged people to show support for the officers and their families.

“What officers do, that’s a tough job,” Lankford said . “They need love, they need support. They need to know the community is behind them.”

The mood was somber outside the police station in east Oakland as the investigation continued. Officers hugged and consoled each other.

“This is a highly sensitive situation that we’re dealing with right now with our OPD family, and we’re still trying to notify family members that their family members were hurt,” Thomason said.

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