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November 26, 2006
The downside of family gatherings
At our Thanksgiving table, we had a discussion among friends and family of our own memories of Thanksgivings past. Inevitably, the topic turned to family arguments that went bad. People storming out of the celebration and driving away in a cloud of dust seems to be phenomenon that seems to occur with some frequency in more than one family. When relatives who don't often get together gather for an hours-long feast, and maybe imbibe a few beverages, they loosen their belts to permit the passage of massive quantities of food through the gastro-intestinal tract. I the process, other restraints can also be relaxed. That's not always a good thing. As we were having this discussion, not very far away, in North Oakland, another family was taking this pattern to an extreme. Steve Rubinstein of the San Francisco Chronicle writes,
Three people were killed and another wounded when a North Oakland holiday get-together turned deadly Thursday afternoon. Two men were taken into custody in connection with the shooting. It is, of course, a shame that three human beings died, another was wounded, and so many others had their holiday disrupted. But we can all learn a lesson here: never bring firearms to a family gathering. For all the wonderful aspects of families, people sometimes drift apart for good reason, and should exercise caution when re-uniting. Avoiding conversations about politics and religion might also be a good idea. But if you do venture into this territory, make certain that nobody has anything more deadly than a fork at the table.
There were nine people, including a child, in the third-floor apartment at 5321 Telegraph Ave. when gunfire broke out shortly before 3 p.m. One man and two women were killed and another man wounded in the gunfire, while another man suffered a broken back when he leaped from a third-floor window to escape the bullets.
Oakland police described the incident as a family dispute gone horribly wrong. "There was an ongoing disturbance within the group,'' which had started well before the bloody Thanksgiving shooting, said Officer Roland Holmgren, an Oakland police spokesman. He declined to elaborate on the dispute or say what connections the shooter or shooters had to the victims, whose names have not been released. While two men were arrested, Holmgren would not say whether both men had been directly involved in the shooting.
The hail of gunfire and the heavy police response sparked near-panic in the sprawling Keller Plaza apartment complex, which sits in the shadow of Highway 24. Police SWAT teams, searching for the armed suspects, banged on doors and sent residents at home for a holiday feast scurrying out onto Telegraph Avenue with only the clothes on their backs.
Hat tip: Susan Lewis