Oakland police and prosecutors said Tuesday they had arrested two people in connection with the death of an 8-year-old girl killed at a sleepover this summer. Police say the suspects were on a rampage, avenging the death of a friend. The targets were two small children and a grandmother.
At a heavily attended news conference, authorities said Darnell Williams Jr., 22, of Oakland was the triggerman, and police also linked him to a separate Berkeley homicide on Sept. 8. Authorities added Williams and his crew allegedly conspired to kill others, but those homicides were thwarted by police work.
Assistant Police Chief Paul Figueroa said he hoped the arrests would bring "some justice to such a tragic" situation: The July 17 shooting death of Alaysha Carradine.
"We have spent a lot of hours and time on this case – for good reason. Some crimes rock the agency and the community; they affect us forever. This is one. Killing an 8-year-old is as despicable as it gets,” Figueroa said.
Alaysha's mother, Chiquita Carradine, said she was overwhelmed with coming face-to-face with her daughter's alleged killer.
"I've been waiting for this day since I got the phone call that she was dead," she said.
Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O'Malley said it was Williams who shot the gun in the 3400 block of Wilson Avenue in Oakland's Dimond District when Alaysha was killed at a sleepover. She and her young friends opened the door just after 11 p.m. only to be met by a barrage of bullets.
“We have stood before you too many times to talk about the violence and particularly the violence that's being committed against our children,” O’Malley said. “The murder of 8-year-old Alaysha Carradine shocked us all and demonstrated a total disregard for human life.”
Alaysha died, and her 7-year-old friend, her 4-year-old brother and their 64-year-old grandmother, Clara Fields, were injured when they were struck by a hail of bullets. The three have since recovered, and were the intended targets of harm, court papers indicate.
Alaysha, nicknamed "Ladybug," would have been a third grader at Fruitvale Elementary School. She earned the dubious distinction of being Oakland's 54th homicide of the year.
Authorities said that Alaysha had no connection to the gang retaliation. But she was at an apartment where the others inside were indeed victims targeted as part of a spree to avenge the death of a 26-year-old man killed four hours earlier in Berkeley. According to police reports, (PDF) Williams and Joseph James Carroll, 27, of Oakland were mad that Jermaine Davis - a close friend and cousin, respectively - had been killed about 7 p.m. in Berkeley on Derby Street. Williams and Carroll, according to court papers, tracked down whom they thought was the killer's children and mother, who lived at 3440 Wilson Avenue, the address of the family where Alaysha had been staying, to seek revenge.
In September, police released a sketch of a possible suspect and on Tuesday, Robert Rosin, an Oakland police officer leading the case, said Williams matches the overall description.
Aside from Williams, who is a convicted felon and gang member, prosecutors charged Carroll as the only other person connected with Alaysha's homicide. O'Malley said Carroll masterminded the revenge killing. He was arrested in Harris County, Texas on Sept. 27.
The two were arraigned Thursday afternoon, and both were charged in connection with last month's Berkeley homicide of Anthony Medearis, (PDF) who was gunned down in the 1400 block of Eighth Street when Williams allegedly tried to rob him during a dice game, court papers state. This homicide has no known connection to Alaysha's death, but court records also show that Williams' 7-year-old nephew was shot in the eye during this gun battle. Williams was arrested on Sept. 8, the same day Medearis was killed.
A third person charged in the Medearis homicide is Laquana Nuno, 28, whom O'Malley said was charged as an accessory to the homicide because she gave Williams a ride afterward. Nuno is not connected to Alaysha's death.
Aside from O'Malley and Figueroa, Chief of the Bureau of Investigations Department of Justice Kent Shaw and Mayor Jean Quan spoke at the news conference.
"I take every shooting in this City personally. Every family touched by violence in this city is owed the same effort.” Quan said. “The stepped-up cooperation of the people of Oakland has helped us solve more and more violent crimes in Oakland. The message is: if you kill anyone – particularly a child – we’ll do everything we can to find you. When we work together, we can start reducing crime rates.”
Quan's office said the city of Oakland set up a memorial fund for the families of four shooting victims.
HOW TO HELP: Anyone who would like to help the families can drop off or mail checks to the Oakland City Center Wells Fargo located at 1221 Broadway, Oakland CA 94612. They can also walk into any Wells Fargo to drop off donations. Checks can be made out to the Antoine and Amara and Clara Fields Memorial Fund to support the York family. Checks to support the Carradine family can be made out to the Alaysha Carradine Memorial Fund.
NBC Bay Area's Alan Waples contributed to this report.