OAKLAND -- Family of victims and survivors of a 2011 shooting at a Jack London Square bar crowded an Oakland courtroom Wednesday to watch the shooter be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
"The emotional impact on our family is, at times, unbearable," said a relative of 26-year-old Oaklander Bill Jenkins, one of two men killed when West Oakland gangster Clem Thompkins opened fire on patrons of the now-defunct Sweet Jimmie's bar and restaurant on April 25, 2011. Adam Williams, 22, of San Leandro, was also killed. Five more people were wounded.
"There is absolutely no reason for this, the pain that we are going through," said Walter Edwards, who said he attended on behalf of Williams and his friend Luke Waterman. Waterman survived the shooting but has difficulty speaking and can't walk or feed himself without help, his sister said.
Thompkins and Lamar Fox were convicted late last year of two counts of first-degree murder, five counts of attempted murder, charge enhancements for firearm use and committing the crimes for the benefit of a gang, and a special allegation of multiple murders. Only Thompkins was sentenced Wednesday; Fox missed the sheriff's bus to court because of a computer error and will be sentenced April 10.
Fox and Thompkins went to the bar looking for a rival gang member who flashed a gun at them earlier in the night, deputy district attorney Tim Wellman argued at trial. After Fox began arguing with a group of men at the front door, Thompkins got out of a car with an assault rifle and fired at least 10 rounds inside. None of the victims was affiliated with any gang.
"Defendant Thompkins' crimes reflect a new low for criminals who have no respect for human life," Wellman said at sentencing.
Thompkins attempted to fire his defense attorney at the sentence hearing but otherwise made no statement. About a dozen of his relatives attended the hearing in his support.
Both slain men were fathers to young children. Jenkins was a business owner and a role model in his family, relatives said. Williams worked as a mentor and teacher's aide for students at Oakland's Peralta Elementary School.
Explaining to the children why their fathers died, Williams' and Jenkins' families said, has been difficult and painful. Adam Williams' son was 4 when his dad was killed and still ask questions, the child's mother, Darisha Fields, said.
"He doesn't understand how someone can do nothing (wrong) and get killed," Fields said through tears.
Contact Malaika Fraley at 925-234-1684. Follow her at Twitter.com/malaikafraley.