Shootout puts body armor in spotlight

A 15-hour ordeal that left two California Highway Patrol officers injured, sent another man to the hospital and closed down Interstate 580 in Oakland reinforced efforts by San Francisco police Chief George Gascón and a state legislator to push a ban on body armor being sold to felons.

The incident began when CHP officers tried to stop 45-year-old Byron Christopher Williams, 45, of Groveland, who was driving a white Toyota truck that was allegedly speeding and weaving through traffic on westbound I-580 near the Grand Avenue exit at 12:50 a.m.

The driver, though, did not respond. When CHP officers approached the vehicle, they allegedly saw firearms inside and the driver arming himself. He was allegedly armed with a handgun, shotgun and rifle, and was wearing body armor.

Williams fired at officers as they moved back to their marked vehicles and CHP officers returned fire, Oakland police said.

Two CHP officers were taken to a hospital and treated for minor injuries after the exchange. Williams was shot an unknown number of times and was listed in serious but stable condition, CHP Sgt. Trent Cross said. He was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder.

Cross said Williams had an “extensive criminal history” and another conviction would mean a third strike under California law.

Gascón said the incident shows the importance of the recently signed law that prohibits felons from purchasing body armor.

“This is the perfect example of why this type of equipment should not be available to people with criminal backgrounds,” Gascón told The Examiner. “It creates a tremendous risk for the community at large and law enforcement.”

After the shootout, CHP officers and Oakland homicide investigators found a suspicious package, along with a binder, while searching the truck, CHP Officer Sam Morgan said.

A member of the bomb squad could not confirm that the package was nondestructive, Morgan said.

Bay Area Newsbody armorCrimeCrime & CourtsLocalPolice Chief George Gascon

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