OAKLAND -- A Tuolumne County man whose 2010 plan to kill leaders of liberal San Francisco organizations was thwarted by a traffic stop was sentenced Thursday to more than 400 years in prison for shooting at CHP officers on an Oakland highway.
Byron Williams, 48, continued to contend at his sentencing that it was the California Highway Patrol, and not him, who fired first in the midnight July 17, 2010, gunbattle in which more than 200 rounds were fired on Interstate 580 near Oakland's Lake Merritt area.
He said "political powers" controlling the government, false statements by the officers involved, and an inattentive jury led him to be convicted last month of four counts of attempted murder on CHP officers and gun charges.
"He continues to blame the officers. He characterizes this as a setup, and he refuses to take responsibility," said Alameda County Judge C. Don Clay, who sentenced the two-time convicted bank robber as a Three Strikes defendant to 401 years and fours months to life in state prison.
"He was on a mission to kill," Clay said in his sentencing of Williams. "When he got stopped -- and he knew the officers were there, and he knew what he had in the car -- he knew he was done."
According to trial testimony, Williams became angry over the state of America while watching Fox News and hatched a plan to "spark a revolution" by killing executives at the Tides Foundation, or, alternatively, staff at the American Civil Liberties Union or California legislators.
Armed with a list of 11 names, a bulletproof vest, three firearms and ammunition, he drove his mother's truck to the Bay Area.
After being stopped near the Harrison Street ramp by CHP Officers Vincent Herrick and Marcus Holden for speeding and weaving, he pulled a gun on Herrick and sparked the 20-minute gunbattle that ended with him surrendering after being shot four times. Of the more than 10 officers in the shootout, Officer Todd Owen was injured in the leg by shrapnel and Officer Ty Franklin was hit in the eye by shattered glass.
Members of the CHP declined to speak at the sentencing, but prosecutor Autrey James said that they continue to struggle with the incident.
Contact Malaika Fraley at 925-234-1684.