Byron Williams, 45, a resident of Groveland, Calif. and a two-time felon, made his first court appearance Tuesday in Alameda County Superior Court where he was charged with four counts of premeditated attempted murder against a peace officer. Each count carries a term of 25 years to life in prison.
Court documents say Williams was on his way to San Francisco that night with a plan to "start a revolution" by attacking two liberal organizations, the ACLU and the Tides Foundation. Oakland police say both organizations advocate progressive social change through philanthropy, but it was not clear why Williams would have a specific issue with them.
"His intention was to start a revolution by traveling to San Francisco and killing people of importance at the Tides Foundation and ACLU," a probable cause warrant submitted to the court said, according to the San Jose Mercury News.
Police spokesman Officer Jeff Thomason did not have details on Williams' motive, but said it appears he was heading to those two organizations "with the full purpose of killing people." Thomason added Williams wanted to target the ACLU and Tides Foundation for their "political views." Authorities have said he has a deep-rooted anger with left-leaning politics
Williams was hit several times during the shoot out, but survived because he was wearing a bullet proof vest.
The shootout began shortly after midnight Sunday morning when CHP officers saw his white Toyota truck speeding and weaving through traffic on westbound Interstate 580 near the Grand Avenue exit. During the traffic stop, CHP officers approached the truck and saw firearms inside, authorities said. Officers also allegedly saw the driver arm himself.
The suspect fired at officers as they moved back to their cars, and CHP officers returned fire, Oakland police said. Williams' truck was left riddled with bullets. Investigators said Tuesday that the shoot out lasted 12 minutes. They say Williams used three different firearms as he shot at officers.
The truck Williams was driving was registered to Williams' mother, who also lives in Groveland. She told the Chronicle that her son has not been able to find a job for the past two years because of his criminal record. She also said he was angry at the government and upset by, "the way Congress was railroading through all these left-wing agenda items."
Two CHP officers were also taken to a hospital and treated for minor injuries they suffered from flying glass.
The CHP officers involved in the shooting were placed on administrative leave, which is standard procedure, CHP Officer Sam Morgan said.
The Oakland Police Department's homicide unit is conducting the criminal investigation into the shooting, and the CHP is carrying out an administrative investigation. The FBI is also assisting.
Police also said Tuesday they believe Williams was acting alone.
Bay City News contributed to this report.