A Tuolumne County man who was involved in a shootout with California Highway Patrol officers in Oakland early Sunday said he was traveling to San Francisco “to start a revolution” by killing people at two nonprofits in the city, according to a probable cause statement released by police.
Byron Williams, 45, of Groveland, intended to target people of importance at the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California and Tides, a nonprofit that advocates progressive social change through philanthropy, according to the probable cause statement.
Williams was arraigned in Alameda County Superior Court this afternoon and is scheduled to return Wednesday morning to enter a plea, Alameda County District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Teresa Drenick said.
He faces four counts of attempted murder of a peace officer, various weapons charges, and a count of being a felon in possession of body armor.
Williams also is eligible to be sentenced according to the state’s three strikes law after he was convicted of robbing a bank in King County, Washington, in August 1995 and one in Madera County, California, in December 2001.
He appeared in court today in a wheelchair wearing a red jumpsuit.
He had been hospitalized following the shootout, which occurred when CHP officers made an enforcement stop of a Toyota Tundra at 11:57 p.m. Saturday on westbound Interstate Highway 580 near Harrison Street.
The officers approached the truck and contacted Williams, the sole occupant, and saw a shotgun and ammunition on the front passenger seat of the vehicle, police said.
Williams then armed himself with a handgun and began to exchange gunfire with the officers.
Additional officers responded to the area, and a 12-minute gun battle ensued. Williams was able to reload and fire three different firearms inside the vehicle, according to police.
One of the firearms was a .308-caliber rifle that can penetrate ballistic body armor and vehicles, police said.
Williams eventually surrendered and exited the vehicle, and which point he was determined to also be wearing body armor.
Two CHP officers were taken to a hospital and treated for minor injuries after the exchange.
A white binder was also found with the word “California” on the front in the truck, but police have not released information about the binder’s contents.
Williams was shot an unknown number of times and was taken to Highland Hospital, where he told authorities he wanted to start a revolution by shooting high-ranking members of the San Francisco nonprofits, according to the probable cause statement.
It’s not clear why those two organizations were targeted except that conservative media commentators often accuse them of having left-wing agendas.
On a June 13 show on Fox News, host Glenn Beck said the Tides Foundation was an organization “using failing capitalism to destroy it.”
Officials with the two San Francisco organizations were not immediately available for comment.
The Oakland Police Department’s homicide unit is conducting the criminal investigation of the shooting, and the CHP is carrying out an administrative investigation. The FBI is also assisting.
Williams will be back in court Wednesday for a plea entry hearing, which is scheduled for 9 a.m. in Department 112 of the Wiley Manuel Courthouse, located at 661 Washington St. in Oakland.