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Family's account of Oakland parolee who killed the four police officers

Monday, March 23, 2009

(03-22) 12:47 PDT OAKLAND -- The Oakland parolee who took the lives of four Oakland police officers knew he was a wanted man and deliberately skipped out on a meeting as part of a feud he was having with his parole agent, his family said today.

Lovelle Mixon's shocked family, gathering at an East Oakland home where the parolee had been living until recently, apologized to the officers' families and to the public, and said they don't understand what might have triggered his burst of violence.

"He's not a monster," said his sister, 24-year-old Enjoli Mixon, whose apartment on 74th Avenue was where Mixon was slain in a gun battle with police that left two Oakland SWAT officers dead. "I don't want people to think he's a monster. He's just not. He's just not."

"We're crushed that this happened," said his grandmother, Mary Mixon. "Our hearts and prayers go out to the officers' families....This shouldn't have happened."

Lovelle Mixon was on parole arising from an offense in San Francisco. Mixon was convicted of assault with a deadly weapon stemming from an armed robbery in San Francisco, the family members said. He initially served six years, and then served another nine months after violating his parole when he got out.

His family said that while he was in Corcoran state prison, Mixon married his childhood girlfriend, Amora Langston, and worked briefly as a janitor for a low-income housing provider in Hayward once he got out two years ago.

He was most recently released from prison in November, his family said.

Then, about three weeks ago, Mixon skipped a home visit from his parole officer, his family said. Mixon's grandmother said he had gotten mad at the agent, claiming to her that the parole officer had missed earlier appointments.

Mary Mixon said her grandson claimed at one point that he was even willing to go back to prison to be assigned a new parole officer.

But, she said, she did not know where her grandson had been staying since.

Mixon allegedly killed three Oakland police sergeants in a pair of related incidents that together rank among the deadliest attacks on law enforcement in California history. The officers were identified as Sgt. Mark Dunakin, 40, and Sgts. Ervin Romans, 43, and Daniel Sakai, 35, both members of the SWAT team.

A fourth officer, 41-year-old John Hege, died this morning, authorities said. A fifth officer, a member of the SWAT team that killed Mixon, was treated for minor injuries and released.

According to police, the first incident happened about 1:15 p.m. when two traffic officers, Dunakin and Hege, were shot after what police described as a "routine" stop of a 1995 Buick in the 7400 block of MacArthur Boulevard in East Oakland, not far from the Eastmont Town Center.

Mixon's relatives said at the time he was stopped by the police motorcycles, he was apparently looking for a parking space. He had bought the car a week earlier from someone in San Francisco.

Gordon Hinkle, a spokesman for the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, said the family's assertion that the parole agent had missed a meeting was "highly unlikely," but added that he is researching the matter.

About two hours after the first shooting, after some 200 officers from Oakland Police, Alameda County Sheriff's Office, BART Police and the California Highway Patrol combed the area for Mixon, three SWAT officers were shot when their team found him hidden in an apartment on 74th Avenue near Hillside Street, police officials said.

Mixon's sister, Enjoli Mixon, lived in the two-bedroom apartment with her 4-year-old daughter, but said she was not home at the time. However, another sibling, 16-year-old Reynete Mixon, was at the apartment, where she had been sleeping.

Reynete said today that she did not see or hear her brother come in. She said she was in the bathroom when police officers bashed in the front door down, causing her to drop to the floor. The officers ran toward her, she said, shouting and throwing small bombs that shredded her pajama bottoms and caused her legs to bleed.

Soon, she said, she ran out of the apartment. As officers moved her across the street, she said she heard gunfire.

"I thought off the top that he was dead," Reynete said of her brother.

Police said an anonymous tipster told them that Mixon was in the apartment building. The SWAT team was called to the site and took control of the area around the building. After repeated attempts to communicate with Mixon, police said, SWAT officers entered the building around 3:30 p.m.

According to law enforcement sources, the SWAT team officers entered an apartment and approached a closet. Suddenly Mixon, hiding in the closet, opened fire through the door, killing two officers and wounding a third. Officers fired back, killing the gunman.

Reynete said she was handcuffed in the back of a police car and then taken to Children's Hospital in Oakland for treatment. After that, she said, she was questioned at police headquarters before she was allowed to be with her family.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger planned to fly from Washington to Oakland today to meet with Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums and Howard Jordan, Oakland's acting police chief.

"All four officers dedicated their lives to public safety and selflessly worked to protect the people of Oakland," Schwarzenegger said in a statement. "Maria and I join the Bay Area in remembering their service and honoring their sacrifice."

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