Oakland police search for two suspects after school shooting

California authorities are searching for at least two people in connection with a shooting on a school campus in Oakland that left six people injured.

Wednesday’s shooting occurred at Rudsdale Newcomer high school, which serves students who are at risk of not graduating and have recently immigrated to the US after fleeing their home countries “because of violence and instability”. The school is one of four adjacent schools that serve middle and high school students on Fontaine Street just outside East Oakland.

Police believe at least two peopleopened fire on the campus at about noon, said LeRonne Armstrong, Oakland’s police chief, during a press conference on Thursday.

Paramedics transported six people to local hospitals, all with gunshot wounds. Two of the victims are in critical condition, one is stable and three have been released. Two of the victims are students, one is a counselor, another is a security guard, and two others are described as “workers at the school”, according to the Oakland police department’s Facebook page.

During the same conference, Libby Schaaf, the mayor of Oakland, called on federal legislators to pass gun restrictions that would make it more difficult to obtain certain firearms.

Map of Fontaine Street in Oakland, California.
A school shooting occurred at Rudsdale Newcomer high school on Fontaine Street in Oakland. Photograph: Google Maps

The shooting comes as Oakland has been grappling with more than two years of elevated gun violence, a rise that began early in the pandemic.

John Sasaki, a spokesperson for Oakland Unified school district, said in a statement that district officials “do not have any information beyond what Oakland police are reporting”.

Before the pandemic, homicides and gun violence in Oakland – along with a number of Bay Area cities – had reached historic lows. But by mid-2020, gun violence was on the upswing and the usual refuges of school, community centers and violence prevention workers were largely unavailable. By the end of the 2020, 102 people were killed, 24 more than the year before.

So far this year, at least 96 people have been killed, mostly with guns.

The city’s youth have not been spared from this increase in homicides. In 2020, at least 14 people under the age of 20 were killed, according to a Guardian analysis of state homicide data. The next year more would lose their lives including 18-year-old Demetrius Fleming-Davis, an Oakland native who was shot and killed while riding in the back of a truck.

“A lot of us have plans that we can’t even make happen because we die at 18 and 19. It’s just a big war zone that we’re facing and I don’t know how it’s gonna be stopped,” said Cianna Williams, a 19-year-old friend of Fleming-Davis last year.

On Tuesday, LeRonne Armstrong, Oakland’s chief of police, announced plans to address the city’s ongoing gun violence by increasing officers’ presence in areas where gun violence is concentrated and where police think people are involved in shootings frequently.

The Associated Press contributed to this story