A Tuolumne County man who was involved in a shootout with California Highway Patrol officers on Interstate Highway 580 in Oakland early Sunday appears to have been headed to San Francisco with the intent to kill people, police said today.
Investigators believe Byron Williams, 45, of Groveland, intended to target the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California and the San Francisco-based nonprofit Tides, which advocates progressive social change through philanthropy, police said.
Police spokesman Officer Jeff Thomason did not have details on Williams’ motive, but said it appears he was heading to those two organizations “with the full purpose of killing people.”
Thomason said it appears Williams was acting alone. He said investigators’ conclusions are based on evidence collected at the scene and police interviews with Williams.
Williams is in court this afternoon to be arraigned on four counts of attempted murder, various weapons charges and being a felon in possession of body armor, Thomason said.
The shootout began shortly after midnight Sunday morning when CHP officers saw his white Toyota truck speeding and weaving through traffic on westbound Interstate Highway 580 near the Grand Avenue exit.
During the traffic stop, CHP officers approached the truck and saw firearms inside, authorities said. Officers also allegedly saw the driver arm himself.
The suspect fired at officers as they moved back to their cars, 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 held at Highland Hospital until being transferred to the jail sometime Monday night or early this morning, Thomason said.
The CHP officers involved in the shooting were placed on administrative leave, which is standard procedure, CHP Officer Sam Morgan said.
The Oakland Police Department’s homicide unit is conducting the criminal investigation into the shooting, and the CHP is carrying out an administrative investigation. The FBI is also assisting.