Saturday, August 04, 2007

7 Arrested in Oakland After the Assassination of Chauncey Bailey, Editor of the Oakland Post

August 4, 2007

7 Arrested in Death of Oakland Newspaper Editor

New York Times

OAKLAND, Calif., Aug. 3 — A day after a prominent newspaper editor was shot to death downtown, the police here on Friday arrested seven men and seized several weapons that they suspected were used in his killing and those of two other men.

Oakland police officials said they suspected that the men were part of a group operating “a very violent criminal enterprise” out of a neighborhood bakery.

The arrests came after a predawn raid by SWAT teams at the bakery, the Your Black Muslim Bakery, and three bakery-owned properties, where the police found several firearms, including the gun they believe was used to kill the editor, Chauncey Bailey, of the weekly Oakland Post.

Mr. Bailey, 57, was shot several times at close range on Thursday morning at a busy intersection near the Alameda County courthouse here. He had been working on an article for the newspaper about possible links between the bakery and several killings in the area, said Walter Riley, a lawyer for the newspaper’s publisher, Paul Cobb.

Efforts to reach a lawyer for the bakery were unsuccessful. The phone at the bakery was disconnected.

One of seven men arrested on Friday was Yusef Bey IV, the son of the bakery’s founder, Yusef Bey, a well-known local black Muslim leader who died in 2003. The six other men arrested on Friday were not identified by the police, nor were two suspects who were still being sought.

The police said the raid came after a lengthy investigation of other crimes, including two kidnappings on a single day in May, and two killings in July that occurred in the same north Oakland neighborhood where the bakery is located. The police had connected those crimes and put the bakery under surveillance before Mr. Bailey was killed.

“During our investigation, Chauncey Bailey was murdered, and it turns out that the evidence in that case also linked the same individuals we were looking at in the other two prior murders to that case,” said Lt. Ersie Joyner of the Oakland Police Department.

Asked whether there were any regrets about not moving faster to arrest the suspects before Mr. Bailey was killed, Assistant Chief Howard Jordan said that the Oakland Police Department’s resources were “very thin” and that the long-term investigation involved the cooperation of neighboring departments.

“Today was the best day we had, that we could have done this with the coordination of our allied agencies,” Mr. Jordan said. “We weren’t just kind of waiting around.”

Mr. Jordan said it was “very disheartening” to hear about Mr. Bailey’s killing, “and it was particularly disheartening to know it was connected to our investigation.”

The bakery’s operators had been investigated by the police in the past. In 2002, the founder, Mr. Bey, was charged with rape, sodomy and lewd acts with a child under 14, stemming from accusations that he had fathered a child with a 13-year-old girl in 1982. Mr. Bey died of cancer in 2003 before his trial began.

In late 2005, several members of the group that operates the bakery, including the younger Mr. Bey, were charged in an attack at a small neighborhood grocery store, in which liquor bottles were smashed and other merchandise was destroyed. The attack was treated as a felony hate crime, the police said, because the store, which is owned by Muslims, had sold goods forbidden by Islamic law.

Lieutenant Joyner said that many residents of the neighborhood surrounding the bakery had been afraid of the Muslim group, whose members sometimes shot automatic rifles in the air in a show of intimidation. Other members of the group, the police said, flaunted their defiance of outstanding warrants on assault and gun charges.

The incident that prompted the investigation, Lieutenant Joyner said, occurred last November. The police suspect that members of the group shot up a local car; no one was injured. The gun used in that shooting was linked to the recent killings, the police said.

“They carried themselves in ways that were very disrespectful to the community, to society as well as law enforcement,” Lieutenant Joyner said.

By midafternoon, the bakery had been boarded up and closed by the city’s health department.

Carolyn Marshall contributed reporting.

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