“Somebody saw something. Somebody knows something,” said Stacey Flowers. “All we ask is that you just come forward so we can have justice for these boys.”
Flowers is the cousin of Craig Fletcher-Cooks, 20, who was killed last August in a barrage of gunfire that also took the life of Terrence McCrary Jr., 22, and critically injured a 24-year-old man. Both of the men who died were graduates of Berkeley High School.
Oakland Police Investigations Sgt. Michael Cardoza said, in the press conference Wednesday morning where Flowers spoke, Fletcher-Cooks was just trying to defend his girlfriend when a group of men started to harass her — grabbing her and trying to dance with her — right before the shooting began. The couple had been attending a birthday party Aug. 14, 2016, at the Prime Development art gallery at 322 15th St.
“Craig stepped in and let the gentlemen know that she was with him,” said Cardoza. It was a Sunday shortly before 1 a.m. “They physically attacked him. They fought him. Craig tried his best to protect himself. And during that physical altercation, he was shot multiple times.”
The four young men in the group were described Wednesday only as black men in their 20s. More than one was armed, and they continued shooting as they left the venue. Outside, approximately 300 people were in the street. The crowd scattered in all directions at the sound of the gunfire. Two people were shot by stray bullets, Cardoza said: McCrary and the young man who survived. (He has not been identified publicly.)
“Many, many rounds were fired,” Cardoza said. Police do not believe anyone other than the attackers fired weapons. Investigators later recovered more than one firearm tied to the case at a different location, Cardoza said, though he declined to provide additional details.
Police said they hope anyone with information, even if it’s secondhand, will come forward to share those details with police. Suspect descriptions, vehicle descriptions, cellphone or surveillance video, or any other related information, even if it may seem insignificant, could be helpful. Cardoza said detectives are looking for things like details about the shooters’ clothing, or other specifics about them, and hope to hear from witnesses who saw the initial fight break out. A $25,000 reward has been set up for information leading to arrests in the case.
“We have some information but obviously we’re still looking for more,” Cardoza said. “We’re still looking for eyewitnesses that can verify information that we already have.”
Flowers described Fletcher-Cooks as “a loving child” who graduated from Berkeley High School, then went on to graduate from a culinary arts program, as well as ITT Technical Institute.
“It’s just a tragedy all the way around,” she said. “For the friends and family and the community as a whole, it’s real.”
Flowers said she hopes someone will come forward with information to help solve the case.
“We can’t get our children back, our family member back, but we can have some type of closure, some justice for these young boys who were just out celebrating, having a good time, when this happened,” she said.
Flowers said her cousin was just trying to be a gentleman to his girlfriend when he was attacked.
“Any life lost is a tragedy,” she said. “But these were good boys. Guns and things of that nature are the last things on their minds. And then they die from that?”
She continued, of the shooters: “These guys that did what they did. May God have mercy on their souls.”
Fletcher-Cooks’ grandmother, Andrea Glasper, said he was lovable and smart, and always spoke his mind. She recalled how he started cooking for her after he began his culinary studies. He liked to make chicken and fish, and even won a contest at school for making the best crab cakes.
“I never had nobody cook for me before,” Glasper said. “There’s so much that I could tell you about him.”
She paused, then continued: “It’s bad for us right now. It’s hard.”
For that same reason, no one from the McCrary family was present Wednesday morning.
But police said there will be a “skate jam” and contest Sept. 16 at the Berkeley Skatepark to honor McCrary, who was a frequent user of that facility. The free event is set to feature an art wall and live music, along with food, drinks and prizes. McCrary’s family has been working to come up with other ways honor the young man, too; a Berkeleyside story is forthcoming.
Sgt. Cardoza implored anyone with information about the shootings to bring it to police as soon as possible.
“This is a tragic, tragic incident where two young men were shot and killed and a third was shot — over what? This is something that we need to solve,” he said. “We can solve this together with the community.”
Officer Marco Marquez, a spokesman for the Oakland Police Department, said it’s a tragedy anytime a life is lost in Oakland. And he said it can take time for police to put together all the pieces to solve a case.
“A case will never be closed to a family that lost a loved one. There’s always going to be that void,” he said. “If we can bring somewhat of a little bit of closure and somewhat of a little bit of peace to that family, we’re going to do that. And we want to do that ultimately. We really do.”
The Oakland Police Department can be reached at 510-238-3821 and the homicide tip line is at 510-238-7950.