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Lovelle MIXON





Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Convicted felon wanted on a no-bail warrant for a parole violation
Number of victims: 4
Date of murders: March 21, 2009
Date of birth: 1982
Victims profile: Motorcycle Sergeant Mark Dunakin, 40; Motorcycle Officer John Hege, 41; SWAT Sergeant Ervin Romans, 43; and SWAT Sergeant Daniel Sakai, 35
Method of murder: Shooting
Location: Oakland, California, USA
Status: Shot and killed by Oakland police department as they returned fire after being fired upon by an assault weapon the same day
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2009 shootings of Oakland police officers

Two shootings of Oakland, California police officers took place on Saturday, March 21, 2009, when four officers were killed by a convicted felon wanted on a no-bail warrant for a parole violation.

The convicted felon, Lovelle Mixon, initially shot and killed two Oakland police officers during a traffic stop, then killed two more when SWAT team officers attempted to apprehend him two hours later. Mixon staged an ambush of the SWAT officers from his hiding place and was killed in a barrage of gunfire as the officers returned fire in self-defense.

The killings made it one of the worst days for law enforcement in California history. It was the single deadliest attack on California police officers since the Newhall massacre in 1970, when four California Highway Patrol officers were shot and killed by two men in Santa Clarita, California.

This incident brings the total number of Oakland police officers killed in the line of duty since 1867 to 51.

The victims

During this incident, four police officers were killed in the line of duty, and one additional officer was injured.


  • Motorcycle Sergeant Mark Dunakin, age 40, had been with the Oakland Police Department since 1991.

  • Motorcycle Officer John Hege, age 41, had been with the Oakland Police Department since 1999.

  • SWAT Sergeant Ervin Romans, age 43, had been with the Oakland Police Department since 1996.

  • SWAT Sergeant Daniel Sakai, age 35, had been with the Oakland Police Department since 2000.

Officers Dunakin, Romans, and Sakai died on March 21, 2009, while Officer Hege died from his injuries on March 24, 2009.


  • SWAT Sergeant Pat Gonzales was shot through the left shoulder and had a second bullet ricochet off his helmet.

The perpetrator

The assailant was identified as Oakland resident Lovelle Mixon, age 26, who worked sporadically as a plumber and custodian. Mixon wielded two different weapons—a 9mm semiautomatic handgun and an SKS rifle—during his deadly assaults on the Oakland police officers.

Mixon had an extensive criminal history. Beginning at age 13, he was arrested multiple times for battery, and by age 20 was serving a Corcoran state prison sentence following a felony conviction for assault with a deadly weapon and armed robbery in San Francisco.

After he was paroled, Mixon went in and out of prison. When the shootings happened, he was living in East Oakland at his grandmother's house and was wanted on a no-bail arrest warrant for violating his current parole conditions.

On March 20, 2009, the day before the shootings, the Oakland Police Department learned that Mixon was linked by DNA to the February 5, 2009 rape of a 12-year-old girl who was dragged off the street at gunpoint in the East Oakland neighborhood where Mixon's sister lived.

On May 4, 2009 a state laboratory confirmed not just this link, but also confirmed that Mixon robbed and raped two young women about seven hours before the shootings. Investigators said that Mixon may have committed several other rapes during recent months, although no convictions or indictments had been secured before his death. If Mixon had been arrested for his parole violation, he would have faced at most six months in prison; if convicted of rape, he faced a life sentence.

Mixon had also been the primary suspect in a previous murder case; however, due to lack of evidence he had been charged only with lesser violations: possession of drug paraphernalia, forgery, identity theft, attempted grand theft, and receiving stolen property.

The day of the shooting

Double rape

On May 4, 2009, it was confirmed by a state laboratory that Mixon's DNA proved him responsible for a double rape that took place on the morning of March 21, hours before the shootings. At approximately 5:40 AM, seven hours before the first part of Mixon's assault on the officers, two young women in their 20s were setting up a food court at High Street and International Boulevard. Mixon pulled a handgun (believed to be the one he used hours later in the shootings), marched them four blocks at gunpoint, raped them, and then fled the scene.

Traffic stop on MacArthur Boulevard

At 1:08 PM PDT, approximately seven hours after the rapes, Mixon's burgundy 1995 Buick sedan was pulled over by two motorcycle officers, Officer John Hege and Sergeant Mark Dunakin, for a traffic violation, in the 7400 block of MacArthur Boulevard in East Oakland, one block away from Eastmont Town Center and an Oakland Police Department substation. After collecting Mixon's driver's license, Sergeant Dunakin became suspicious that the license was fake and signaled to his partner, Officer Hege, to arrest Mixon.

Witnesses say Mixon accessed a semi-automatic pistol and exited the vehicle, opening fire without warning. After both officers collapsed to the ground, he approached them and fired execution-style directly into their heads, then briefly remained standing over the bodies before fleeing on foot. Those who heard the gunshots reported Mixon as having fired six shots. Neither officer was able to return fire.

Some witnesses called 911 and ran over to the stricken officers and started CPR. Sergeant Dunakin died at the scene. Officer Hege was mortally wounded, having been shot behind the left ear.

Mixon's family members were well aware of his criminal activity. According to a cousin, Mixon had recently purchased his handgun (illegal for a felon on parole), as well as the burgundy Buick he had been driving when the traffic stop happened, by using profits from his most recent criminal endeavor, pimping. Mixon was talking with his uncle on a cell phone at the time of the traffic stop and promised to call back afterwards. “But he was probably thinking about that piece he had in the car,” said Curtis Mixon, 38, “and he wasn’t about to go back to jail.”

Mixon fled the scene on foot into the surrounding neighborhood, leading to an intense manhunt by some 200 officers from the Oakland Police Department, the Alameda County Sheriff's Office, the BART Police Department, the California Highway Patrol, and several agencies from various cities. Nearby streets were cordoned off, and an entire area of East Oakland was closed to traffic.

Shootout on 74th Avenue

At about 3:20 p.m. PDT, as police descended on the neighborhood, a local woman walked up to MacArthur Boulevard to see what the commotion was about. She noticed the burgundy Buick, and recalled seeing Mixon in the car during the previous few days. She also knew that Mixon's sister lived in a two-bedroom, ground-level apartment at 2755 74th Avenue, just a block from where the motorcycle officers were shot. Although she knew her life would be in danger if she were labeled a "snitch," the woman decided to give this information to an officer she recognized.

Police concluded that the lives of people in the three-story apartment building might be at risk, so they couldn't afford to barricade the building and wait. They determined that because of the location of Mixon's sister's apartment within the building, there was no way to ensure that other residents could safely be brought through the single front entry door to the street. The SWAT team had no way of knowing that since the shooting of the motorcycle cops with the pistol, Mixon had managed to secure an SKS carbine, likely stored in his sister's apartment. SWAT officers soon raided the apartment, breaking down the door while throwing nonlethal shock (flashbang) grenades.

As the SWAT team entered a bedroom in a clear and search operation, Mixon ambushed them, shooting with the SKS rifle through the wall and door of the closet where he was hiding. One member of the SWAT team, Sergeant Ervin Romans, was killed immediately, and Sergeant Pat Gonzales was wounded, hit in the shoulder. Sergeant Gonzales, Sergeant Daniel Sakai, Alameda County Sheriff's Deputy Derrick Pope returned fire. Mixon was felled by the barrage of gunfire, yet managed to fatally wound Sergeant Sakai before dying.


Racial tensions

Some race-related issues surfaced following the shootings. Since Mixon was black and the slain officers were white and/or of mixed race, several community leaders voiced concern that the confrontation might lead to increased tensions between Oakland's black community and the Oakland Police Department.

Although many Oakland citizens had stepped forward to help at the scene of the motorcycle police shootings, about 20 bystanders had taunted police as they gathered at the scene.

Citing their cause as "resistance to police brutality," Uhuru House activists, who promote "African internationalism," handed out flyers in the neighborhood where Mixon was shot, inviting people to a rally where they might "uphold the resistance" of "Brother Lovelle Mixon".

The San Francisco Bay View, which identifies itself as a "National Black Newspaper," suggested that the killing of four police officers was a victory for "the people" and referred to Lovelle Mixon's death as a "murder". Approximately 60 people attended the March 25 Uhuru House rally in support of Mixon. The demonstrators marched down MacArthur Boulevard, some carrying signs proclaiming "genocide". On the other hand, Caroline Mixon, Lovelle Mixon's cousin, paid a public tribute to the Oakland police, thanking them for "serv[ing] and protect[ing] the city of Oakland."


  • March 22 - California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger ordered flags at the state capitol flown at half-staff in honor of the slain officers.

  • March 23 - Officer John Hege's organs were harvested. After Hege was transferred to the hospital, doctors determined that his brain lacked sufficient activity to sustain life. He was the only one of the four fatally shot officers who was a registered organ donor, and he had to be deemed officially brain dead before his organs could legally be harvested. So he was kept on life support awaiting the official declaration of brain death and subsequent organ harvesting. Officer Hege was pronounced officially brain dead on March 22. His organs were harvested on March 23, he was disconnected from life support that evening, and he died afterwards. His organ and tissue donations saved four lives and enhanced 50 others.

  • March 24 - A vigil was held by the City of Oakland at the site of the shootings. At least 1,000 people attended, including Mayor Ron Dellums, Police Chief Howard Jordan, and Lieutenant Governor John Garamendi.

  • March 24 - Lovelle Mixon's sister, Enjoli Mixon, in whose apartment the shooting occurred, appeared in a Fremont court after being arrested on a bench warrant stemming from an October, 2008 misdemeanor drug charge.

  • March 25 - United States Congressman Jerry McNerney gave a speech on the floor of the House of Representatives honoring the four slain police officers.

  • March 25 - A vigil for Lovelle Mixon, sponsored by the Uhuru Movement, was held along Oakland's MacArthur Blvd., close to where the shootings occurred. It was attended by Mixon's mother, his wife, some of his family members, and approximately 60 other people.

  • March 27 - A public funeral for the four officers was held at Oakland's Oracle Arena. It was attended by at least 21,000 people.

  • March 31 - Approximately 500 people attended the funeral service for Mixon. The service included family members, friends, singers and poets, and it was held at Fuller Funerals on International Boulevard in Oakland. A Nation of Islam minister asked everyone to remember that they were gathered to support Mixon's family, and one family member spoke of how Mixon had strayed from God.

  • March 31 - Several hundred people gathered in the early evening at an event organized by Pastors of Oakland, which is composed mainly of black ministers. Caroline Mixon, cousin of Lovelle Mixon, publicly praised the Oakland Police Department for serving and protecting the people of Oakland. Reverend Doug Stevens exhorted those gathered to live as if they were already in heaven, "without regard to color or class".

  • April 10 - The Oakland Athletics paid tribute to the four slain officers at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum in a special ceremony before its home opener against the Seattle Mariners. A's players donned Oakland Police caps for the ceremony and debuted "OPD" patches on their white home uniforms, which were worn for the remainder of the 2009 season.

  • May 4 - A state laboratory associated with the Oakland Police Department reported that Lovelle Mixon's DNA linked him to the rape of a 12-year-old girl on February 5, 2009, and also proved that he robbed and raped two young women on the morning of the shootings. Based on this latest revelation, California State's Attorney General Jerry Brown, former Mayor of Oakland, voiced his opinion that Lovelle Mixon had been "a one-man destruction force." Sgt. Dom Arotzarena, president of the Oakland Police Officers Association, lamented that this new information "doesn't bring the guys back...all it says is, to his supporters, this is who you're supporting. Congratulations for supporting a monster."

Police officers' funeral

On the morning of March 27, 2009, Oakland citizens filled the overpasses and streets near the Oracle Arena in a show of support for the Oakland Police Department and the slain officers. By the time the service started at 11:00 a.m. PDT, the arena was filled to its capacity of 19,000, including the entire 800-strong Oakland police force; an overflow of at least 2,000 persons spilled over into the adjacent Oakland Coliseum. Police officers from around the state and nation, as well as a contingent from Canada, attended the event.

Speakers included Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, and Attorney General Jerry Brown. Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums attended; however, he was asked not to speak at the funeral by at least two of the slain officers' families, and he honored this request.

Congresswoman Barbara Lee, Lt. Gov. John Garamendi, Mayor Gavin Newsom of San Francisco and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa of Los Angeles also attended but did not speak. Oakland Police Department Chaplain, Father Jayson Landeza, read a letter of sympathy and support from Barack and Michelle Obama.

Relatives, friends, and comrades delivered eulogies to the four slain officers, praising their heroism, humanity, and selfless service to the people of Oakland.

An affecting tribute came from Oakland Police Captain Edward Tracey, commander of the SWAT team that cornered Mixon. "These were my men," he said. "They died doing what they loved: riding on motorcycles, kicking in doors, serving on SWAT."

Captain Tracey thanked the witnesses who called 911 and attempted to aid Sergeant Dunakin and Officer Hege, "To the citizens who called 911 last Saturday to report our officers down and the brave man...I hope you hear me, sir...the brave man who provided CPR to our fallen heroes, we thank you, we thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Your actions let us know that they, that these officers, did not die in vain. That the people, that they were there to serve, were the ones that helped them in the end." The "brave man" he was thanking was Clarence Ellis, who had used his own coat to tamponade the arterial blood spurting from Sergeant Mark Dunakin's neck.

Referring to press coverage that attempted to link the murder of the officers to the January 1, 2009, slaying of Oscar Grant, retired Oakland Police Department Lieutenant Lawrence Eade admonished the press, "For those who manipulate the story, may your careers be extremely difficult until you tell the truth... This is not about your ratings, this is about a tragic loss... The citizens are not arming themselves against the police, there is no war between us and you cannot create one!"

After the service concluded at approximately 3:00 p.m. PDT, long cavalcades of police cars escorted the officers' coffins to their final resting places, and the thousands of mourners dispersed.

Other tributes

  • A portion of Interstate 580 (California) is now called the Sgt. Daniel Sakai Memorial Highway.

  • On March 21, 2012, the third anniversary of the shootings, the Keller Avenue Bridge on I-580 was designated as the Sergeant Mark Dunakin, Sergeant Ervin Romans, Sgt. Daniel Sakai and Officer John Hege Memorial Bridge.

  • The Oakland Athletics wore "OPD" on a patch located on the right sleeve of their home white uniform, to honor members of the Oakland Police Department injured and killed in the shootout March 21, 2009.

  • Oakland SWAT Sergeant Daniel Sakai, age 35, was killed on March 21, 2009 in the line of duty along with fellow officers Sergeant Ervin Roman, Sergeant Mark Dunakin, and Officer John Hege. Daniel is survived by wife Jenni and daughter Jojiye.


Killer of 4 officers wanted to avoid prison

By Demian Bulwa and Jaxon Van Derbeken -

Monday, March 23, 2009

A fourth Oakland police officer was pronounced dead Sunday in the wake of a shooting rampage by a 26-year-old parolee who, according to family members, knew he was a wanted man and did not want to go back to prison.

Motorcycle officer John Hege, 41, was declared brain dead Sunday morning at Highland Hospital in Oakland and remained on life support to preserve his organs for donation.

His death made Saturday's shootings in East Oakland the deadliest attacks on California law enforcement in almost four decades.

According to authorities, Lovelle Mixon used a semiautomatic pistol to shoot and kill Hege and Sgt. Mark Dunakin, 40, two motorcycle officers who pulled him over during a routine traffic stop. Two hours later, Mixon, who was holed up in his sister's nearby apartment, opened fire with an AK-47 assault rifle, killing SWAT team sergeants Ervin Romans, 43, and Daniel Sakai, 35.

Another SWAT team officer, Sgt. Pat Gonzales, also was shot: A bullet ripped through his left shoulder, and another ricocheted off his helmet. He was treated for his injuries and released.

The chaotic shootout occurred in a darkened apartment filled with smoke from officers' nonlethal shock grenades and dust from bullets ripping through drywall. It ended when SWAT team officers returned fired and killed Mixon, authorities said.

On Sunday, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger flew in from Washington, D.C., to offer condolences and to meet with Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums and Howard Jordan, Oakland's acting police chief. Investigators tried to figure out why Mixon would commit such a crime.

Law enforcement authorities revealed Sunday that Mixon had been investigated last year in another homicide case in Alameda County. Details of that slaying were not immediately released, but prosecutors found there was not enough evidence to charge him.

Outburst puzzles police

Oakland investigators said they were not aware of Mixon's possible connection to the earlier slaying. They said they were perplexed about what triggered Mixon's sudden outburst of violence against their officers.

"This is a strange one," said Oakland police Capt. Steve Tull, who is overseeing the investigation. "We don't know what his motivation is." If authorities found he had violated the conditions of his parole, Mixon would have faced at most six months in prison, Tull said.

Mixon "weighed six months" against his own life and the lives of the officers, Tull said.

Relatives of Mixon gathered Sunday morning at an East Oakland home where the parolee had been living until recently. They publicly apologized to the officers' families and said they were shocked by the sudden burst of violence that has devastated their city.

"He's not a monster," said his sister, 24-year-old Enjoli Mixon, who said her 4-year-old daughter's bedroom in a small apartment on 74th Avenue was the scene of much of the bloodshed. It was there, police said, where Mixon fired through a closet wall at a team of SWAT officers, who then shot and killed him. "I don't want people to think he's a monster. He's just not. He's just not."

"We're crushed that this happened," added the gunman's grandmother, Mary Mixon. "Our hearts and prayers go out to the officers' families. ... This shouldn't have happened."

Assault conviction in 2002

Lovelle Mixon was convicted in 2002 of assault with a deadly weapon after an armed robbery in San Francisco, family members said. He served time in San Francisco County Jail and Corcoran State Prison. He had been released on parole in 2007, then was sent back to prison for nine months in 2008 after he had violated his parole. His attorney in the assault case, Lisa DewBerry, declined comment Sunday.

His family said that while he was behind bars, Mixon married his childhood girlfriend, Amara Langston, and worked briefly as a janitor in Hayward once he got out. He was most recently released from prison in November, his family said.

Then, about three weeks ago, Mixon skipped a home visit from his parole officer, his family said. Mixon's grandmother said he had gotten angry at his parole officer because the agent had missed earlier appointments. Gordon Hinkle, a spokesman for the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, said the family's assertion that the parole agent had missed a meeting was "highly unlikely," but added that he is researching the matter. He said the department had issued a no-bail, parole revocation warrant for Mixon's arrest after he failed to appear for a meeting with his parole officer.

"We did pick him up previously, (and) he has been looked at as a suspect in other serious crimes," Hinkle said. "He was a suspect in a murder, but due to lack of evidence, on a homicide, he was charged with other violations."

Mary Mixon recalled that her grandson said at one point that he was even willing to go back to prison as a way to get a new parole officer. She said, she did not know where her grandson had been staying for the past few weeks.

According to police, Saturday's violence began about 1:08 p.m. when two motorcycle officers, Dunakin and Hege, were shot after stopping a burgundy 1995 Buick in the 7400 block of MacArthur Boulevard in East Oakland, not far from the Eastmont Town Center.

Officer's radio contact

Dunakin had radioed in that he was going to make the stop, notifying authorities of the vehicle involved. He walked up to Mixon, asking for his driver's license. Dunakin then brought the paperwork back to his motorcycle. It was at this point that Mixon sprung out and fired a semiautomatic pistol, hitting both officers, authorities said.

Mixon's relatives said that when he was stopped by the police motorcycles, Mixon was apparently looking for a parking space. He had bought the car a week earlier from someone in San Francisco.

Mixon was having a phone conversation with his uncle, Curtis Mixon, just before the first shooting. "He said, 'The police just pulled up behind me. Let's see what's going on. I'll hit you back.' "

Curtis Mixon said, "He never hit me back."

About two hours after the first shooting, about 200 officers from the Oakland police, Alameda County Sheriff's Office, BART police and California Highway Patrol combed the area for the suspect. Acting on an informant's tip, a SWAT team raided the apartment of Mixon's sister.

Romans was shot almost immediately, as was Gonzales, who continued to battle a gunman the officers couldn't see.

At one point, an Alameda County sheriff's deputy outside the apartment went in with a rifle and joined the fray after he saw officers carrying out a wounded comrade, said Harry Stern, an attorney representing officers in the case.

Stern said that during the gunfight, the deputy and three other officers closed in on Mixon in a back bedroom, which was pitch black, smoky and dusty. Mixon was shooting from a closet, police said.

One officer was fatally shot in the bedroom before Mixon was killed.

"It was a remarkable display of heroism and galantry in the face of unfathomable destruction," said Stern, who did not name the officers.

Enjoli Mixon said she was not at her apartment when her brother holed up there. But another sister, 16-year-old Reynete Mixon, was at the apartment.

Reynete said she was in the bathroom when police officers bashed in the front door, causing her to drop to the floor. The officers ran toward her, she said, shouting and throwing grenades that shredded her pajama bottoms and caused her legs to bleed.

Soon, she said, she ran out of the apartment. As officers moved her across the street, she said she heard gunfire.

"I thought off the top that he was dead," Reynete said of her brother.



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