- Associated Press - Tuesday, November 29, 2011

OAKLAND, CALIF. (AP) - Police searched for multiple suspects Tuesday after a gunbattle in a parking lot where a rap music video was being filmed left seven people wounded, including a 1-year-old boy who was shot in the head.

The gunfire erupted around 6 p.m. Monday as about 20 people gathered outside a west Oakland liquor store, police said. The victims were transported to local hospitals by others at the scene before officers arrived.

The toddler, a man and a woman were critically injured, Police Chief Howard Jordan said. The remaining victims _ all males _ sustained non-life-threatening injuries.

“This was a pretty heinous act that took place in our city,” Jordan said, asking any witnesses to come forward with information. “This should not be tolerated by this community.”

Witnesses initially said Oakland rapper Kafani was the one making a video when the shooting occurred. But Kafani said Tuesday that while his promotional van was in the vicinity, he himself was not there.

“I was in the studio,” said Kafani, who has a deal with an independent record label. “I get these tweets that I had been shot and then some of my family members started calling, asking me what happened.”

Other family members then called and told Kafani that his cousin Hiram Lawrence and Lawrence’s 1-year-old son had been shot. Kafani said Lawrence had mentioned earlier Monday that he was going to a video shoot.

“My cousin was holding his son and a bullet hit him in the hand, and his son was shot in head,” Kafani told The Associated Press.

Lawrence then drove himself and his son, also named Hiram, to the hospital.

Relatives who gathered at Children’s Hospital Oakland on Tuesday declined to speak with reporters, and the hospital wouldn’t release any information about the child. Kafani tweeted mid-afternoon: “Right now lil cuz in coma but both sides of brain seems to be functioning right now pray pls.”

Investigators were still trying to piece together what happened and determine a motive Tuesday. They said it appeared one group of people fired on another group, and the second group fired back.

But Sgt. Randy Wingate said some of the people who returned fire were “not as cooperative as we’d like them to be.” He said authorities are looking at “several persons of interest.”

Wingate wouldn’t say whose video was being recorded but said investigators “don’t think that Kafani has any significance in this case.”

A surveillance camera at State Market Liquors captured parts of the shooting, including three people wearing hooded sweat shirts firing from around the corner from the store.

Bullet holes riddled the liquor store’s exterior Tuesday, and two cars still parked outside had shattered windows and flat tires from bullets.

The store’s co-owner, Salah Abdullah, was inside the business when the shooting occurred. He said the group outside was using small cameras to record the music video. Some were posing with liquor bottles outside the store entrance when gunfire erupted, sending Abdullah ducking for cover.

“Everybody was scared,” Abdullah said, estimating he heard about 50 shots. “There was yelling and screaming from inside and outside the store.”

Larry White, 35, said he was entering his apartment across the street from the store when the shooting happened. After the gunfire subsided, he said he saw a car speeding from the scene and a man holding a little boy who was bleeding from the head.

“I hope everybody is all right, especially that little man,” White said.

Kafani said he spoke to his cousin briefly after the shooting, and Lawrence is “really distraught and emotional right now.”

“We’re just sad about this,” Kafani said. “How can someone shoot in a crowd with kids around? This violence in Oakland is crazy. Please, put the guns down.”

Copyright © 2016 The Washington Times, LLC.

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