A Tuolumne County man pleaded not guilty today to the premeditated attempted murder of a peace officer and other charges stemming from a shootout with California Highway Patrol officers in Oakland three weeks ago.
Byron Williams, 45, of Groveland, is charged with four counts of the attempted murder of a peace officer, three counts of being a felon in possession of a firearm and one count of being in possession of ammunition.
Williams is also charged with having two prior serious felony convictions, which could make him eligible for life in prison without parole under the state’s “three strikes” sentencing procedures if he is convicted.
Authorities said Williams initiated a 12-minute gun battle with CHP officers after he was stopped just before midnight on July 17 on westbound Interstate Highway 580 near the Harrison Street exit for speeding and driving erratically.
Police said Williams was wearing body armor and was armed with three guns, including a .308-caliber rifle that can penetrate ballistic body armor and vehicles.
After the exchange of gunfire ended, Williams, who was injured, surrendered and exited his vehicle.
According to a probable cause statement filed by Oakland police Sgt. Michael Weisenberg, Williams told officers who interviewed him at his hospital room that he intended to “start a revolution by traveling to San Francisco and killing people of importance at the Tides Foundation and the American Civil Liberties Union.”
The Tides Foundation is a nonprofit that advocates progressive social change through philanthropy.
Weisenberg said Williams allegedly told officers that when he was stopped by the CHP, “He made a decision that he would not be arrested and that he was willing to shoot and kill the officers.”
Williams is being represented by Philip Caruthers of the Alameda County Public Defender’s Office.
He is scheduled to return to Alameda County Superior Court on Sept. 23 for a pretrial hearing.