San Lorenzo Express News

Gunfire at Several San Lorenzo Parties

SEPTEMBER 28, 2009

Gunfire at recent large gatherings in San Lorenzo have created a new serious safety issue in the community.

In January 2007 two persons were shot to death at a large private party in San Lorenzo Village, on via Amigos — the first incident of its type in San Lorenzo. A suspect was identified but has not been captured.

Now, within just the past few months, gunshots have created panic and death at three parties involving large numbers of people.

Two Shot at Community Center Party

On June 22 two persons were shot as a large party was winding down at a private party at the San Lorenzo Homes Association hall on Paseo Grande. Neither victim was seriously injured.

Sometime after 9:30 p.m. one or more persons fired randomly into the crowd of people in the parking lot, reportedly after a fight. The shooters are not believed to have been guests, but arrived in the parking lot as the party was breaking up.

Investigators from the Alameda County Sheriff's Department have talked with about 50 witnesses but are having difficulty getting cooperation from them.

Man Shot Dead at House Party

On the morning of August 22, just after 2 a.m., gunfire erupted at a house party in the 100 block of Paseo Grande, at the eastern end terminating at Meekland Avenue. Alameda County Sheriff's deputies were in the immediate vicinity at the time and responded within seconds.

A 19-year-old Oakland man was killed and two other persons were wounded by the gunfire. The wounded were males, 20 and 17 years old.

Deputies encountered what they described as a chaotic scene. Apparently a heated argument at the party provoked a fistfight, and then one person shot all three victims.

Wild Gunfire at Rented Church Hall

On Sunday September 6, about 11:15 p.m., Alameda County Sheriff's deputies heard intense gunfire in the area of the San Lorenzo Baptist Church, 180 East Lewelling Blvd. Deputies arriving at the church found about 300 young people fleeing in chaos. About 100 persons, mostly teenagers, were detained.

The gunfire included at least one machine gun (a fully automatic rifle) and two hand guns. It appeared the rifle was fired in one sustained burst of bullets. No injuries were reported.

The church had rented its hall to a well-known promoter of hip-hop parties. The promoter, Eugene Cockerham, Jr., lied to church staff when he asked to rent the hall, saying that he was planning a surprise party for his wife. Church employees were on hand when Cockerham set up the party Sunday night, then left, seemingly assured that everything was in order.

After the employees left, Cockerham reportedly charged admission at the door. No alcohol was served. By 9:30 p.m. hundreds of teens and young adults filled the church's parking lot. Neighbors reported that by 11 p.m. groups of males began threatening exchanges in the parking lot.

Police officers from several agencies, including the cities of Dublin, Hayward, and San Leandro, as well as BART and East Bay Regional Park police, assisted in crowd control and investigation of the night's frightening events. Teenagers that had been detained were lined up along Lewelling Blvd. until about 3 a.m. No suspects have been charged and no guns were found at the church.

The church hall was badly damaged.

According to the Daily Review, Cockerham has a history of hosting boisterous parties that result in gunfire and property damage. He has rented halls throughout northern California since the mid-1990s for his parties, which attract hundreds of teens. At least five persons have been killed by shootings linked to Cockerham's parties — one in Berkeley in 1997, two in Vallejo in 1999, one in Clayton in 2002, and a 15-year-old boy in San Francisco in 2004.

Source: Based in part on reports in The Daily Review and San Leandro Times