Click photo to enlarge
Lionel Fluker. (Nick Lammers/Staff Archives)

OAKLAND -- A 54-year-old father and former freelance photographer for the Oakland Tribune was shot and killed while driving home in East Oakland on Friday night, and the intended target was critically wounded.

It is believed Lionel "Ray" Fluker was driving home from his gym shortly after 10 p.m. when a bullet -- intended for another man -- struck and killed him as he drove, police said.

The shooting happened at the Valero gas station at Seminary Avenue and MacArthur Boulevard, not far from where Fluker lived, police said, and he was found at Seminary and Monadnock Way. That station has been the scene of numerous shootings and killings over the past several years.

A 38-year-old man, believed by investigators to be the intended target, remained in critical condition Saturday afternoon at Highland Hospital. His name has not been released. He was given a ride to the hospital by someone at the scene.

Fluker was a peaceful and polite man in life, possessing boundless energy, an ear-to-ear grin and an ability to recall just about everyone's name, friends said Saturday. They described him as being as courteous to complete strangers as he was to his photography subjects and friends.

"Lionel worked for the Oakland Tribune over the years, initially as an unpaid intern, simply because he loved the field of photojournalism," said Nick Lammers, director of photography for the Bay Area News Group. "He later worked for (the newspaper) as a freelance photographer, and was a go-to guy that always worked hard making the best images he could."

He took photos for the Oakland Tribune on and off between 1995 and 2007, Lammers said.

Fluker had four siblings, but the oldest, Alex Fluker, a former professional television photographer, died in 2006 at the age of 60. It was that brother who taught Fluker about photography.

Fluker was a prolific photographer, documenting the East Bay from high school, college and professional sports to notables: Tina Turner, former Oakland Mayor Jerry Brown, Halle Berry, Jonathan Winters and Phyllis Diller, and musical groups TLC and 'N Sync.

When he wasn't behind the lens, he worked full time in the computer engineering field, his family said.

His true love was his 20-year-old daughter, Dominique.

He would often bring her to work with him when she was a young girl and talked constantly about her efforts on track and softball teams and later about her interests in becoming a ballet dancer, Lammers recalled.

"He was a loving man, very dedicated to his daughter," said Lammers. Fluker's daughter attends Spelman College in Atlanta and was not immediately available for comment.

"It is very sad to see such a hardworking, loving man taken away in such a senseless fashion. My heart goes out to his family and friends," said Lammers.

Lionel Fluker drives in the holiday parade in Oakland in December 2011.
Lionel Fluker drives in the holiday parade in Oakland in December 2011. (Ray Chavez/Staff file)

Fluker's younger sister, Nicole Marie, 46, of Hayward, called her brother an "extremely intelligent and articulate" man who loved to work out and ride his bike. He belonged to an Oakland gym and had a collection of bicycles, which he rode all around Oakland and nearby cities. His dedication to fitness started at Berkeley High School, where he played soccer, his sister said. He went on to serve in the U.S. Army when he was about 19, she said.

Fluker's killing is the second involving someone with ties to the Oakland Tribune shot to death in the city in recent years. Chauncey Bailey, who was the editor of the Oakland Post at the time of his death, was killed in August 2007 by an employee of Your Black Muslim Bakery, an organization he had been investigating for suspected criminal ties.

The killing of Fluker was the 25th homicide this year in Oakland. No suspects have been arrested and police do not have a motive for the shooting, police said.

There is a reward of up to $15,000 for information leading to the arrest of the shooter or shooters. Call police at 510-238-3821 or Crime Stoppers at 510-777-2805.

Reach Kristin J. Bender at kbender@bayareanewsgroup.com. Follow her at Twitter.com/kjbender. Reach Harry Harris at hharris@bayareanewsgroup.com.