OPD Suspect's Family: "He's Not a Monster" - NBC Bay Area

OPD Suspect's Family: "He's Not a Monster"



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    "He's not a monster"

    Relatives of the man suspected of fatally shooting three Oakland police officers said Sunday the 26-year-old parolee was frustrated about not finding work and feared returning to jail.

    One of his sisters told reporters, "He is not a monster."
    The suspect, Lovelle Mixon, was slain in a gunfight with police during which two officers were killed Saturday, authorities said. Another officer was fatally shot earlier in the day and a fourth gravely wounded after the two of them pulled Mixon over for a routine traffic stop, police said.

    Mixon's family gathered Sunday at his grandmother's East Oakland home, where he had stayed on and off since being released from a nine-month sentence for a parole violation, family members said.

    His mother Mary Mixon said she was were sorry for the families of the officers and added that there family was hurt as well.

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    "It's something that shouldn't have happened.  It devastating to too many families and our heart goes out to the families of the officers and also to my family which is going through a lot also" Mary Mixon said.

    Mixon's sister, Reynete Mixon, 16, said she was sleeping at her older sister's apartment when police kicked in the door and threw flash grenades, one of which struck her and caused minor burns on her leg. She said she did not know her brother was in the apartment when she fled as shots rang out.

    Mixon's other sister said the thought was probably scared. She said she felt the same pain as the officers' families did.

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    LaTasha Mixon, 28, of Sacramento is Mixon's counsin.

    She said her family's prayers were with the slain officers' relatives.

    "We're devastated. Everybody took a major loss. We're crushed," she said.

    Mixon had previously served six years in state prison for assault with a firearm during an armed robbery in San Francisco, the family said. While he was in Corcoran state prison, he married his childhood girlfriend, they said.

    Mixon's uncle, 38-year-old Curtis Mixon of Fremont, said his nephew had become depressed because he could not find work as a convicted felon. His nephew expected authorities to issue an arrest warrant for missing parole meetings, even though the he felt he was not to blame, he said.

    "I think his frustration was building up, but he was trying to better himself," Curtis Mixon said.

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    Mixon was wanted on a no-bail warrant for violating his parole when Sgt. Mark Dunakin, 40, and Officer John Hege, 41, both on motorcycles, stopped a 1995 Buick sedan in east Oakland just after 1 p.m., police said.

    The driver opened fire, killing Dunakin and Hege, Oakland police spokesman Jeff Thomason said.

    Last word, Hege remained on life support as he waiting for his organs to be harvested.

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    After shooting Hege and Dunakin, the gunman fled on foot, police said, leading to an intense manhunt.

    Two hours later, officers found the gunman inside a nearby apartment building. When a SWAT team entered, the gunman opened fire, police said. Sgt. Ervin Romans, 43, and Sgt. Daniel Sakai, 35, were killed and a third officer was grazed by a bullet, police said.

    Officers returned fire, killing Mixon, police said.

    Relatives and co-workers of the four officers requested privacy as they absorbed the enormity of the deaths. Oakland had never lost even two officers on the same day, never mind having twice that many mortally wounded.

    Yet some details about their lives and motivations for joining law enforcement emerged Sunday.

    Dunakin's mother-in-law, Maxine Schwab, of Stockton, said he is survived by his wife of 16 years and their three children, two boys ages 15 and 8, and a 13-year-old daughter. They lived in Tracy.

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    Schwab's daughter, Angela, met Dunakin when the two were taking criminal justice classes at Chabot College, but retired in 1998 as an Alameda County sheriff's deputy after she was taken hostage while responding to a restaurant robbery. Another deputy was killed in that incident, Schwab said.

    "She understands police work, so she knew the dangers," Schwab said of her daughter. "There is no question she knew. This is her second time around. She is very facing reality, face on."

    Dunakin, who was born in Ohio and raised in Pleasanton, loved police work and spent several years working in Oakland's homicide division before he joined the traffic division, Schwab said. His parents and younger brother arrived in the Bay Area within hours of the shootings, she said.

    "He was smart, and he was so good with people, very warm and affectionate," Schwab said of her son-in-law. "If you met him, you'd be charmed by him."

    Friends who knew Sakai from his days at the University of California, Berkeley and his continued involvement in his college fraternity said he was married to a campus police officer and was the father of a young daughter. He and his family lived in Castro Valley.

    Oren Levy, a fraternity brother of Sakai, said his friend grew up in Big Bear and was an accomplished mountain biker and outdoorsman who majored in forestry and graduated in 1995.

    As an undergraduate at Berkeley, Sakai worked for the campus police department as a student volunteer. After graduation, Sakai spent a year in Japan teaching English.

    "His honor was extremely important to him. Whenever there was a situation where someone could take the path that was less honorable, he always advocated doing the right thing," Levy said. "Being a police officer was really perfect for him."

    Schwarzenegger's office released a statement late Sunday night saying that like Dunakin, Sgt. Romans, who lived in Danville, left behind a wife and three children.

    Hege's father said his son, who lived in Concord, loved being a policeman. He worked well with people and was an Eagle Scout. He played high school football and wrestled. He umpired and coached even as a youth, and joined the Oakland Police Department reserves.

    After graduating from St. Mary's College in Moraga, he taught high school physical education for a few years in nearby Hayward before joining the police department a decade ago.

    He recently became a motorcycle traffic patrol officer, Hege said, adding, "He liked excitement."

    As for the slain shooting suspect, Hege said, "The man was evidently terribly desperate. It is a sad story."