Oak­land cops de­tail July street ex­plo­sion

San Francisco Chronicle - - BAYAREA - By Me­gan Cas­sidy

The 23-year-old man ar­rested in con­nec­tion with an ex­plo­sive de­vice that in­jured Oak­land po­lice of­fi­cers dur­ing a July march had handed the de­vice to a 13-year-old and let him do the dirty work, an Oak­land po­lice of­fi­cial said.

Lt. James Beere on Thurs­day de­tailed the months-long in­ves­ti­ga­tion that led po­lice to sus­pect Giovonni Gaines, who was ar­rested Nov. 1.

There were two demon­stra­tions that com­bined on the evening of July 23, Beere told The Chron­i­cle. One was a march hon­or­ing the life of Nia Wil­son, who had been stabbed to death on the MacArthur BART Sta­tion plat­form a day ear­lier. The sec­ond was a protest of a ru­mored meet­ing of white na­tion­al­ists in down­town Oak­land.

The events started out peace­fully, but later erupted af­ter a group mis­tak­enly iden­ti­fied a man as a white na­tion­al­ist and at­tacked him near 19th Street and Broad­way. Of­fi­cers were at­tempt­ing to res­cue the man and clear a path for evac­u­a­tion when the ex­plo­sive de­vice was thrown in their di­rec­tion, Beere said.

Beere, who caught a glimpse of the de­vice be­fore it det­o­nated, de­scribed it as an al­tered M-1000 — a pow­er­ful fire­cracker — with an elon­gated body wrapped in cop­per sheet­ing with plas­tic caps on ei­ther end.

Video footage of the det­o­na­tion cap­tured by KGO-TV shows a flash and a plume of white smoke in the mid­dle of a crowd of po­lice of­fi­cers and marchers, send­ing pedes­tri­ans flee­ing and cov­er­ing their

ears.

The ex­plo­sion in­jured about 10 of­fi­cers, in­clud­ing Beere, who was struck with shrap­nel.

Beere said in­ves­ti­ga­tors had few leads at the be­gin­ning of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion. But af­ter com­pil­ing footage from body-worn cam­eras and se­cu­rity cam­eras they were able to get make out a ju­ve­nile with a “dis­tinc­tive de­scrip­tion.”

The ju­ve­nile was taken into cus­tody and con­fessed im­me­di­ately, Beere said.

The boy said the adult sus­pect had handed him the de­vice amid the chaos and in­structed him to “throw it,” Beere said, in an ac­count that was cor­rob­o­rated by se­cu­rity footage. The boy knew Gaines’ street name, and de­tec­tives be­gan to zero in on the adult sus­pect.

Gaines’ at­tor­ney did not re­turn a re­quest for com­ment Thurs­day evening.

Gaines was booked on sus­pi­cion of mul­ti­ple felonies, in­clud­ing pos­ses­sion of a de­struc­tive de­vice, de­struc­tive de­vice near a pop­u­lated lo­ca­tion, use of a bomb to de­stroy prop­erty and ex­plod­ing a bomb caus­ing bod­ily in­jury, jail records show.

He is be­ing held on $3 mil­lion bond in Santa Rita Jail in Dublin. Gaines is sched­uled for a bail hear­ing on Thurs­day at the Alameda County Court­house.

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