A 16-year-old boy and a 25-year-old man who reputedly belong to a violent West Oakland gang were slated to appear in court Friday on murder charges for the shooting death of a man who apparently was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Oakland police spokesman Jeff Thomason said the teenager, Earnest Prescott, is suspected of being the gunman in the shooting death of 43-year-old James Lee Johnson in the 1100 block of Eighth Street at 3 p.m. last Sunday and Jason Jones is suspected of being an accomplice. He said police believe Prescott and Jones belong to the Ghost Town gang, which was the subject of a highly-publicized raid called “Operation Ghostbusters” on May 20 that resulted in the arrest of 26 suspected gang members. Assistant Police Chief Howard Jordan said after the raid that police believe the gang has been involved in a variety of crimes, including murders, assaults, carjackings and drug dealing. Thomason said police believe that Johnson was a law-abiding citizen who isn’t affiliated with a gang and was merely walking from his home to a nearby store when he was shot and killed. He said the area where Johnson was shot is considered to be the turf of the Acorn gang, which is a rival of the Ghost Town gang. Chief Deputy District Attorney Tom Rogers said Prescott and Jones were driving in the Acorn area and saw a reputed Acorn member who had wronged them in the past. But by the time they parked their car, they couldn’t find the rival gang member, Rogers said. They then allegedly walked up to Johnson, whom they didn’t know, and shot him for an unknown reason, he said. Rogers said Johnson had no criminal record and was “a good guy who was completely innocent.” A large group of people attended a vigil in honor of Johnson Monday night. After the May 20 raid, Deputy Police Chief Jeffrey Israel said the Ghost Town gang’s territory generally has been along Martin Luther King Jr. Way between 25th and 35th streets but it’s also been involved in criminal activity throughout the city. Prescott is being prosecuted as an adult, Rogers said. Prescott and Jones were scheduled to be arraigned on Friday afternoon at the Wiley Manuel Courthouse in Oakland.
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