Two 18-year-old men were arraigned in Alameda County Superior Court today on charges of murder for a seemingly unprovoked attack in downtown Oakland last week that left a 59-year-old San Francisco man dead.
Family members of Tian Sheng Yu, the man who died after the Friday afternoon attack, were in the courtroom of Judge Robert McGuiness, as was Oakland Police Chief Anthony Batts, for the short hearing for suspects Lavonte Drummer and Dominic Davis.
McGuiness referred Davis to the public defender’s office, while Drummer was represented by attorney Adante Pointer. The two men were ordered to return to court on Friday at 2 p.m. to enter a plea.
Davis and Drummer are both being held in the Santa Rita Jail in Dublin without bail.
Yu and his son, 27-year-old Jin Cheng Yu, were attacked in the 1800 block of Telegraph Avenue at about 3 p.m. Friday while headed to a pawn shop.
Oakland police said Drummer and Davis first hit Yu’s son without warning. After the son told Yu, who was parking his car, what had happened, they approached Drummer and Davis, and Yu, speaking in Mandarin, asked the 18-year-olds why they had hit his son.
Yu was hit in the head and his head then hit the pavement, leaving him unconscious and unresponsive. He was rushed to Highland Hospital in Oakland, where he died at 11:27 a.m. Tuesday after being taken off life support.
Alameda County Chief Deputy District Attorney Tom Rogers initially considered filing hate crime charges against Drummer and Davis, who are black, but decided against it because Drummer and Davis have previously attacked victims of other races, and denied that Friday’s attack was racially motivated.
Drummer has a conviction as a juvenile for assaulting a 55-year-old black man in downtown Oakland and Drummer and Davis were both arrested in April 2007 for the attempted strong-armed robbery of a 31-year-old white man in Berkeley, Rogers said.
Before the attack on Yu and his son, who are Chinese-American, Drummer and Davis had been drinking Bacardi rum and “agreed they would attack someone because they were frustrated and their lives were not going well,” Rogers said.
Both men were arrested Tuesday in connection with the attack.
Yu’s son and wife were in the courtroom for today’s hearing.
Dozens of Asian-American community members also packed the courtroom in a show of support for the family.
Carl Chan, president of the Oakland Chinatown Chamber Foundation, spoke on behalf of the family following the hearing.
Chan said “by coming to court today, what (the family would) like to say is simple. They do not want another family to go through what they’ve gone through.”
Chan said the son did not want to answer questions about the incident because “he still feels that he killed his own father” by not preventing the attack.
Batts also came to the hearing, and said the large crowd in the courtroom showed that “there’s a lot of sensitivity in this community about this event.”
Chan announced today that a foundation has been set up to help Yu’s family “be able to go through the first few months” after this ordeal.
The Chamber Foundation has already donated $2,500 to the foundation, while Laney College President Frank Chong has also donated $500, according to Chan.
He said other organizations, such as the Asian Advisory Committee on Crime, and the Organization of Chinese Americans, had also pledged to donate money.
Community organizers are also planning a rally on the date of Yu’s funeral, tentatively scheduled for May 4, to protest crimes that target seniors and minorities, Chan said.
To donate to the foundation, make checks payable to: The Yu Family Foundation, c/o Metropolitan Bank, 250 E. 18th St., Oakland, CA 94606.