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Oakland Police Officer Shot and Killed on Duty Near Jack London Square

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A close-up headshot of a young Asian Oakland police officer next to a blue OPD flag, with a large body of water in the background.
Oakland police Officer Tuan Le, 36, who was fatally shot on the morning of Dec. 29, 2023, while responding to a burglary at a cannabis business near Jack London Square. He was rushed to Highland Hospital and pronounced dead several hours later. (Courtesy of the Oakland Police Department)

Updated 4:30 p.m. Saturday

An Oakland police officer was shot and killed early Friday morning while responding to a burglary at a cannabis business near Jack London Square, police officials said.

The city late Friday identified the officer as Tuan Le, 36, who had been with the department for nearly four years and, over the last two, had served as a community resource officer in West Oakland.

“It is with profound sorrow that we announce the passing of Officer Tuan Le, a dedicated public servant, loving husband, and a cherished member of the Oakland community,” the city said in a statement.

Le was part of an overnight burglary operation that responded to an initial burglary report at the business, on Embarcadero near Fifth Avenue, at around 1 a.m. Officers investigated but didn’t see anyone, said interim Police Chief Darren Allison.

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Several hours later, just after 4:30 a.m., the team — of uniformed and plainclothes officers — responded to a second report at the same location, Allison said. This time, officers found multiple suspects fleeing the scene, at least one of whom opened fire, striking Le, who was wearing plain clothes and driving an unmarked car.

Le’s partners rushed him to Highland Hospital, but doctors were unable to resuscitate him. He was pronounced dead at 8:44 a.m., with family members and other officers by his side, Allison said.

“The dangers and demands of this profession are real and come with significant sacrifice,” Allison said during a Friday afternoon press briefing at the police department’s headquarters. “Sadly, today one of our officers paid the ultimate sacrifice.”

During the incident, officers did not return fire or make any arrests, and the assailants remained at large as of Friday afternoon, Allison said. But homicide detectives were following up on “a lot of actionable evidence,” he added, and urged anyone with information to contact the department.

“Many of our officers and specialized units are out there on the street right now engaged in following every lead that comes in seeking these suspects,” Barry Donelan, president of the Oakland Police Officers’ Association, told KQED on Saturday. “And let me just tell you, they are going to be successful. We are going to bring these folks to justice.”

Le’s death is the city’s 125th homicide of the year, he said.

Le was born in Saigon, Vietnam and later moved to Oakland where he became a naturalized citizen on Sept. 11, 2001, the city said in its statement. He graduated from Oakland’s 183rd police academy in February 2020.

As an officer in West Oakland, Le “devoted himself to strengthening the bond between law enforcement and the residents of Oakland,” the city said.

His death comes as Oakland grapples with an increase in violent crime, largely fueled by a steep rise in robberies (up 37% compared to this time last year) and burglaries (up 24%). The city has also struggled for months to find a new permanent police chief to lead the department, after Mayor Sheng Thao fired former Chief LeRonne Armstrong in February.

Thao called the killing “an assault on our city,” and pledged her administration would “work tirelessly” with law enforcement to find those responsible.

“I am truly devastated by this news, and I know that all of Oakland feels the impact of this loss,” she said at Friday’s press briefing. “This loss cuts deep. Many of our officers are hurting right now, and they’re going to need our support. Our community is in shock.”

“We are angry. We are united in mourning,” added Oakland City Administrator Jestin Johnson.

“This senseless murder underscores the courage and bravery of our officers,” he said, “and it demonstrates everyday that they arrive at work to serve and protect our community.”

Alameda County District Attorney Pamela Price, who at times has been a vocal critic of law enforcement, called Le’s death “a tremendous tragedy,” and said her office stood ready to prosecute those responsible.

“The deadly violence that we have experienced in Oakland in recent years has no place in Alameda County,” she said in a statement. “The murder of this young officer is inexcusable.”

The incident marks the 54th time an Oakland police officer has been killed in the line of duty, according to the police union, and the first instance since March 2009, when four officers were gunned down by a single assailant.

KQED’s Katherine Monahan and Brian Krans contributed to this story.

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