15-year-old Shamara Young was gunned down in a road rage incident in Oakland, California Wednesday night, authorities said.

The shooting marks the fifth murder in the city this week, as the homicide rate continues to trend upward.

Police said the victim was riding in the passenger seat of a car being driven by her uncle, who “began to have dialogue” with someone in another car. 

That escalated to an argument, during which a passenger in the other vehicle fired multiple rounds — striking the 15-year-old Shamara Young multiple times. Her uncle drove her to nearby Highland Hospital, where she died.

Authorities investigating the shooting have little information on Shamara Young’s killer. The shots were fired from an Acura, though police have not described — or do not know — the color of the car, whether the shooter was the driver or a passenger, or what caused the deadly argument.

15-year-old Shamara Young of Oakland, California was gunned down in a road rage shooting, and police are investigating what happened.
15-year-old Shamara Young of Oakland, California was gunned down in a road rage shooting, and police are investigating what happened. Photo credit: Oakland Police

City in Crisis

“How much do we have to bring before the public,” said Oakland police chief LeRonne Armstrong in an emotional press conference Thursday.  “How many times do we have to cry out for help? How many times do we have to say to you that we are in a moment of crisis?”

The road rage killing of Shamara Young marks Oakland’s 109th homicide this year, according to authorities, and the city is on track to outpace last year’s murder rate.

The incident came only hours after a drive-by shooting claimed victim number 108, and less than a week after a beloved local activist was gunned down in a home invasion.

According to police, the road rage shooting is the fifth homicide in Oakland in the last seven days.

“We cannot arrest our way out,” Armstrong said. “This is not just a police issue. Violence is a community issue.”

In the Thursday press conference, Armstrong called on anybody with relevant information to step forward. 

“If you haven’t spoken out, you should feel saddened by that. If you haven’t exercised your voice, you should feel saddened for that,” he said. “[The] community needs help right now. We don’t have time to wait.”

The mother of Shamara Young, who declined to be named, expressed a similar sentiment. 

“We need to get together and find out who did this,” she said in a video posted to the Oakland Police Twitter account.  “It’s not called snitching. It’s called protecting your city.”

“This is draining. Emotionally, mentally, physically,” said city Councilmember Loren Taylor, who represents the neighborhood where the shooting took place. “We are losing way too many lives in our city. And, it hits particularly deep when it’s one of our babies — a 15-year-old girl.” 

Barry Donelan, president of the Oakland Police Association, argued that law enforcement in the East Bay city doesn’t have the resources to handle the wave of violent crime.

“Almost 300 shootings this year yet, at the same time, we have a significant attrition problem in the police department as officers are leaving and going to agencies in communities around us,” he said. The Oakland Police Department has a $674 million budget, which was just increased by $39 million over the summer.

Remembering Shamara Young

The 15-year old victim was a caring sister to her younger siblings, her mother said.

“She loved her family a lot. She loved her little brothers and she was very protective of them,” she recounted in the emotional video statement. “She was just an awesome big sister, and an awesome daughter.” 

“She loved to go out and have fun with her friends,” her mother continued. “She was also about making herself better, she was always pushing to strive for the best.”