Two of the victims were hospitalized with life-threatening injuries, the authorities said. The shooting occurred at a campus in the Bay Area that houses several schools.
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OAKLAND, Calif. — Six people were shot on Wednesday at a school campus in Oakland, in a burst of gunfire that erupted minutes before hundreds of students were scheduled to be dismissed for the afternoon.
The shootings — which left two adult victims hospitalized with life-threatening injuries and panicked scores of families who arrived to retrieve students only to find the campus in lockdown — came amid a rash of gun violence in the Northern California city, where the authorities have recorded at least eight gunshot deaths in the past nine days.
Police said all of the victims were over 18 and had “some affiliation” with Rudsdale Newcomer High School, one of four programs at the East Oakland school complex. They said they were still searching for the gunman.
In an update posted to Twitter on Thursday, police said that those injured included two students, a counselor, a security guard and two other workers at the school. Three remained hospitalized, police said, including two in critical condition and one stable. Three others, police said, had been released from medical care.
LeRonne Armstrong, the chief of the Oakland Police Department, said Thursday in a news conference that there had been at least two shooters, and another accomplice, involved in Wednesday’s shooting, but that “there may have been more.” More than 30 rounds, he added, had been fired on the campus.
“We do believe that this incident is group and gang related,” Chief Armstrong said.
The Oakland authorities said the Police Department had investigated 360 assaults with a firearm this year, compared with 465 incidents by this time last year, a 23 percent reduction, and homicide rates have fallen slightly in the past year. But crime has long been an issue in economically depressed neighborhoods, including East Oakland. Alarm has risen in recent months among parents in the school district, which voted in 2020 in the wake of social justice demonstrations to disband its school police department and replace it with an alternative school safety plan.
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“It’s a lot to process — our community, our parents, are feeling the weight of so much trauma,” said Treva Reid, an Oakland City Council member who represents the campus area.
The shooting was among more than 130 that have occurred this year at schools across the nation, including more than 30 that have resulted in injuries or deaths, according to a New York Times analysis of databases compiled by Education Week and the Naval Postgraduate School’s Center for Homeland Defense and Security. The deadliest was the mass shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, that claimed the lives of two adults and 19 children in May.
Oakland has already had a shooting this school year, in August, in which a 13-year-old boy was injured by the accidental discharge of a gun a 12-year-old student had brought to another East Oakland campus.
Libby Schaaf, the Oakland mayor, said Wednesday afternoon on Twitter that what had occurred on the campus “shocks the soul — our schools are sanctuaries for our children.”
“The unbridled access to firearms in our country is inexcusable,” she added.
The Oakland Police Department asked parents to meet their children at a church close to the school complex. There, dozens of teachers mingled with law enforcement personnel and reporters while waiting to return to campus after being evacuated.
The shooting occurred at the King Estate complex, which includes the headquarters for Sojourner Truth Independent Study; Bay Area Technology School, a charter program that serves students in grades six through 12; Rudsdale Continuation High School; and Rudsdale Newcomer High School.
Seth Feldman, the executive director at Bay Area Technology School, said the gunfire had rung out just minutes before school let out for the day, when the hallways would have been flooded with students. “Five minutes later,” he said, “and this would have been tragic.”
Guadalupe Guerrero, 17, a student at the continuation school whose mother had picked her up early, said she had received a frantic call from her best friend as they drove away from the school, telling her students had heard eight gunshots.
Angelica Nodal, whose son, Mateo, is an eighth grader at Bay Area Technology, said she had pulled up to the school to pick up her child and had found another parent screaming that there had been a shooting. As parents around her dialed 911, she said, she struggled to contain her alarm.
“It’s scary,” she said. “There’s kids, not only mine in there. Everyone matters in there.”
Mr. Feldman said a guard at the charter school had been shot in the leg. He also said one of his administrators, Ryan Hughes, had rushed to a student’s aid, applying pressure on a wound to stem the bleeding. “He pressed,” Mr. Feldman said. “He put his hands on him to make sure that he could be OK.”
Matthew Benjamin, a high school teacher at Bay Area Technology School, said he had been walking down a hallway when he heard what sounded like gunshots, one after another, right around the corner.
“It was a blur,” Mr. Benjamin said. “I just instinctively turned around. I jumped back into the classroom; I told everyone get down. Kids were starting to flip out, and I grabbed hold of the door.”
He said he had yelled at students to “get down.” Mr. Benjamin’s class locked the windows and hunkered down for about an hour.
Across the hallway, Sherman Moore, a science teacher, heard what he thought were fireworks. But he told his students to stay quiet, just in case.
Then a voice came on the intercom saying that the school was being locked down.
The students pushed tables and chairs up against the doors and waited, hoping for the best. About an hour later, police officers knocked on the door and evacuated everyone.
“Once we started walking up the hallway, I knew it was really serious, because they had us do this,” Mr. Moore said, putting his hands above his head.
School officials said counseling would be made available for students, as the police asked for help from members of the public who might have had surveillance camera footage or any other recordings of the shootings. Oakland’s police chief has said he plans to add officers and adjust deployment to address recent gun violence, much of which he said was gang-related.
“What happened today was wrong,” John Sasaki, a spokesman for the Oakland Unified School District, said at a news conference. “It was very traumatic. It was devastating to our school community.”