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A reputed Oakland gang member was ordered today to stand trial on two counts of murder and five counts of attempted murder for a shooting at a restaurant near Jack London Square in April 2011 that left two people dead and five people wounded. At the end of a two-day preliminary hearing, Alameda County Superior Court Judge Gloria Rhynes said prosecutors produced sufficient evidence to prove that Lamar Lorice Fox, 23, was one of the two main perpetrators in a shooting at Sweet Jimmie’s at 311 Broadway at 12:42 a.m. on April 25, 2011, that claimed the lives of William Jenkins, 27, of Oakland and 22-year-old Adam Williams of San Leandro. Both were fathers of young children and Williams was an after-school teacher’s aide at Peralta Elementary in Oakland. Five other people were wounded in the shooting, four of them seriously, but survived. Prosecutor Ben Beltramo said the shooting was actually carried out by Clem Thompkins, 24, a reputed colleague of Fox in the Lower Bottoms gang, but Fox played a major role in the incident because he furnished the assault rifle that Thompkins used and was with him when the shooting occurred.
Beltramo said that when Fox admitted his involvement to Oakland police several months after the shooting “he aptly described the crime when he said it was a massacre.” The victims in the case were “completely innocent people” who wound up in the middle of a confrontation between the Lower Bottoms Gang and the rival Acorn gang, Beltramo said. Rhynes ordered Fox to stand trial on two counts of murder and five counts of attempted murder as well as for acting to benefit a criminal street gang, using a firearm to cause deaths and great bodily injuries. She also ordered Fox to stand trial on a charge of being a felon in possession of a firearm, as prosecutors allege he has two prior felony convictions, one for second-degree robbery on Jan. 15, 2008, and one for selling controlled substances on Feb. 4, 2009. In addition, Fox faces the special circumstance allegation of committing multiple murders. At the end of a separate preliminary hearing last March 14, another judge ordered Thompkins to stand trial on similar charges. Thompkins and Fox could have faced the death penalty but the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office has already decided not to seek the death penalty for Thompkins and is unlikely to seek it for Fox because it doesn’t believe he was the shooter in the incident.
Fox and Thompkins are scheduled to appear together in court on Jan. 29, when a decision could be made on whether they will stand trial together or separately. Oakland police gang expert Steve Valle testified during the preliminary hearings for both Thompkins and Fox that both men belong to the Lower Bottom Gang in West Oakland and an investigation indicates that Thompkins carried out the shooting because members of the rival Acorn Gang flashed gang signs at Fox, Thompkins and their gang associates shortly before the shooting at Sweet Jimmie’s. Lt. Tony Jones testified that Fox told police that the initial confrontation between the two gangs occurred at Nation’s Giant Hamburgers, which is near Sweet Jimmie’s and is located at 317 Broadway, where an Acorn Gang member flashed a gun. Fox, Thompkins and their Lower Bottoms associates then drove to East Oakland to get a gun, Jones said. According to Jones, Fox said several of his associates got into an argument with people inside the entrance of Sweet Jimmie’s a short time later and then Thompkins came into the restaurant and “started firing.” Valle testified that it appears that Fox, Thompkins and their Lower Bottoms associates felt “disrespected” by the Acorn members they clashed with and wanted “an immediate response by retaliation.”
Fox’s lawyer, John McDougall, argued today that Fox should only be ordered to stand trial on lesser charges because he thought he and his fellow Lower Bottoms members were only going to get into a fistfight with their Acorn rivals and had no idea that Thompkins would shoot up Sweet Jimmie’s. But Beltramo asked, “If you’re just going to fight with your fists, why would you get a gun before the confrontation?” The prosecutor said, “Not only did Lamar Fox know about the gun, he got the gun.” Rhynes said she agreed that if Fox and his associates only planned to get into a fistfight then it didn’t make sense that they would go get a gun. She said that once Fox and the others got the assault rifle it was “reasonably foreseeable” that people could get injured or killed.
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