OAKLAND -- A sign admonishing the residents of an East Oakland housing complex not to skateboard, roller skate or ride bicycles became the site Wednesday of a makeshift memorial for 15-year-old Hadari Askari.
The high school student and Oakland Fire Department summer intern was gunned down inside the locked gates of the Lion Creek Crossing housing estate Tuesday evening, less than 100 yards from his front door and within view of dozens of apartments. Family members, friends and residents gathered Wednesday morning to mourn the loss of the boy known around the neighborhood as "cousin" by lighting candles, hugging and crying, and placing several teddy bears near the site of the shooting, which still bore faint traces of blood.
"He was my baby doll, my first little brother, my toy," said Anthonesha Alexander, 23, Hadari's older sister, fingering the collar of the pink Abercrombie & Fitch polo shirt that was her brother's favorite. "He got jumped in the most senseless way. They targeted him out of ignorance and murdered him brutally."
Hadari, whose name means "young soldier" in Swahili, was popular with kids around the neighborhood. They often came around asking to play basketball with the 6-foot-1 teen or join him at home to play video games. He baby-sat for other kids, looked after some of the older folks in the neighborhood, and volunteered at a local computer technology program.
Hadari had just begun the fulfillment of a
"During orientation, he was very attentive and raised his hand with enthusiasm when asked who wants to become a firefighter," a saddened Oakland Fire Chief Teresa Reed said Wednesday. "Hadari stood out to me; he appeared to be a good kid, with a good spirit. Life shouldn't be like this for our youth. My prayers goes out to Hadari and his family."
Hadari, who suffered from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, was a student at Stars, a San Leandro high school for kids with behavioral problems. He planned to transfer to Skyline, where he would have been a junior in the fall.
The circumstances of the fatal shooting, which happened about 8:08 p.m. Tuesday in the 6700 block of Leona Creek Drive, remain unclear.
Diane Metivier, a 51-year-old nursing home worker, heard shots and was one of the first to come upon Hadari lying in a pool of blood and gasping for breath. She rushed back to her apartment and called 911. "I've never experienced anything like this," she said, "You live in a gated community, you think it's safe."
Alexander, Hadari's sister, said she believes the killers jumped over the metal fence while chasing her brother and gunned him down as he tried to turn a corner and head for home. So far, none of her neighbors have come forward with information to the police, though she believes many know what happened. "It's hurtful when people come and give condolences but won't say anything about what happened," she said.
Officer Jason Andersen said Wednesday that police don't have a motive yet for the shooting and no arrests have been made.
The killing was Oakland's 62nd homicide of the year, the same number as last year at this time.
Shaken residents of the gated complex continued to pour out of their apartments Wednesday morning.
"I just came to say a prayer for him and his family," said Gail Ellis, a 59-year old wheelchair-bound neighbor. She sighed and shook her head. "This really shook me up."
Police and Crime Stoppers of Oakland are offering up to $10,000 in reward money for information leading to the arrest of the gunman. Anyone with information can call police at 510-238-3821 or Crime Stoppers at 510-777-8572 or 510-777-3211.