Oakland freeway shootout

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Oakland freeway shootout
LocationI-580, Oakland, California
DateJuly 18, 2010
TargetCalifornia Highway Patrol officers
Attack type
Injured3 (including the perpetrator)
PerpetratorByron Williams
MotiveExtremist anti-government beliefs

The Oakland freeway shootout occurred on July 18, 2010, when two California Highway Patrol officers on I-580 in Oakland, California, attempted to stop Byron Williams,[1] whose speeding pickup truck was seen on westbound Interstate 580 weaving through traffic.


Williams, a multiple-felon, who had previously been convicted twice for bank robbery, was stopped after a CHP officer purportedly observed him weaving at excessive speed on the 580 west bound. Williams yielded near the Harrison Street on ramp. After being approached by the officer, Williams or the officer began firing with a handgun. Williams, who purportedly received a gunshot wound to the back of his head, fired three rounds with his 9mm handgun. As additional CHP officers arrived on scene, more gunfire ensued. Williams then started firing an M1A .308 rifle at the officers. He reloaded the rifle once, firing a total of seven .308 rounds. He was wearing a bulletproof vest which was not impacted during the entire exchange, although the CHP fired a collective 198 rounds from pistols, shotguns, and .223 rifles. Williams did not surrender until he was struck by numerous bullets.[2] The shootout lasted for 12 minutes.[3] In addition to Williams, two officers received minor injuries from flying glass.


Byron Williams police booking photo

Until the time of his arrest, Williams had been living with his mother, Janice Williams, in the rural town of Groveland, California in Tuolumne County. News media have reported that Williams was 45 years old in 2010 and was an unemployed carpenter.[4][5]

Intended targets[edit]

Oakland police spokesperson Jeff Thomason confirmed at Williams' July 20 arraignment that evidence indicated Williams planned to target the San Francisco offices of the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California and the Tides Foundation. Investigators reported Williams told them he wanted to "start a revolution by traveling to San Francisco and killing people of importance at the Tides Foundation and the ACLU."[6][7]

In an interview with Media Matters for America, Williams claimed that he chose the Tides Foundation as a target because he believed that American billionaire philanthropist George Soros "has the Tides Foundation and the Tides fund," which he uses "for all kinds of nefarious activities."[8] While some outlets have suggested a link between right wing rhetoric and the shootout, in an interview with Examiner.com, Williams spoke more about his influences, stating that he felt outlets like Fox News Channel were neglectful when it came to organizations like the Tides Foundation, and cited a variety of websites and outlets as influences, including conspiracy theorists David Icke and Alex Jones.

Trial and sentence[edit]

In March 2014 Williams was convicted of four counts of premeditated attempted murder of a peace officer, as well as weapons violations. On April 3 he was sentenced to 401 years in prison.[4]


  1. ^ Highway Shooter Targeted Tides Foundation, ACLU Archived 2011-08-03 at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ I-580 shootout suspect mad at left-wing politics
  3. ^ Jay Barmann (2010-08-12). "Byron Williams, the Crazed I-580 Shooter, Pleads Not Guilty". SFist. Archived from the original on 2014-03-06. Retrieved 2013-08-14. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  4. ^ a b Lee, Henry K. (April 4, 2014). "Shooter in freeway gunbattle gets 401 years in prison". San Francisco Chronicle.
  5. ^ Police: Alleged freeway shooter was targeting ACLU, Salon.com, July 20, 2010
  6. ^ "Highway Shooter Targeted Tides Foundation, ACLU". www.ktvu.com. Archived from the original on 2011-08-03. Retrieved 2013-08-14. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  7. ^ Lee, Henry K. (January 7, 2011). "Alleged gunman says he wanted 'a revolution'". The San Francisco Chronicle.
  8. ^ Hamilton, John (October 11, 2010), Jailhouse Confession: How the right-wing media and Glenn Beck's chalkboard drove Byron Williams to plot assassination, Media Matters, retrieved December 17, 2010 CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)