Suspect in Oakland editor's death did not act alone, police say

Authorities say that a 19-year-old man who confessed to fatally shooting a journalist last week might not have been acting alone.

Los Angeles Times/August 7, 2007
By John M. Glionna

San Francisco -- A 19-year-old man who confessed to the execution-style slaying of an Oakland journalist last week did not act alone, Oakland police said Monday.

Devaughndre Broussard, a handyman at Your Black Muslim Bakery, told investigators that he shot Chauncey Bailey, 57, with a shotgun because he was worried that the Oakland Post editor was working on a story that would be critical of the group that runs the bakery and of its leaders.

Authorities believe that others were involved.

"We don't think he acted alone," said Sgt. Michael Poirier, chief of staff for the Oakland Police Department. "We're looking at others to make the connection."

A morning arraignment is scheduled today in Alameda County Superior Court. Prosecutors are expected to formally charge Broussard with murder, authorities said. He also was being held on an unrelated warrant on suspicion of shooting into a dwelling, police said.

Broussard was among seven people arrested Friday during a police raid on the bakery and two residences. On Monday, police identified two others who allegedly were involved in a May kidnapping and torture case.

Joshua Bey, 20, and Tamon Halfin, 21, both of Oakland, could be charged in the kidnapping case today, Poirier said.

Halfin was one of several people associated with the bakery who was charged with vandalizing two Oakland liquor stores in 2005, Poirier said.

Yusuf Bey IV, 21, the son of Your Black Muslim Bakery founder Yusuf Ali Bey, also was taken into custody during the raids. He is being held on a $375,000 bond from San Francisco accusing him of assault with a deadly weapon, but he has not been directly linked to Bailey's slaying.

Bailey, a former Oakland Tribune and Detroit News reporter, recently became editor of the Oakland Post, a black community newspaper. He was shot in broad daylight Thursday morning as he walked to work in downtown Oakland. A funeral is scheduled for Wednesday.

Three other men arrested in the case have yet to be charged and could be released, Poirier said. Authorities are still seeking two women involved with the bakery for questioning. The bakery was shut down on the day of the raid for reported violations.

Since Bailey's death, Oakland has been rocked by seven homicides that police say are unrelated to the bakery investigation. Still, police are bracing for more violence as they defend their recent actions against the Black Muslim group.

Leaders of the group have said they provide direction and jobs for youth. But the bakery's founder and spiritual leader, Yusuf Ali Bey, was charged in 2002 with forcing an underage girl to have sex with him in the 1970s. He died of cancer in 2003 while facing trial and additional allegations of abuse.

"Over the years, the group has gone away from its religious roots toward crime," Poirier said. "The leaders have gotten much younger. They portray themselves as militants to a degree, with a disdain for authority."

Oakland police have been questioned about why they did not act sooner, perhaps saving Bailey's life. They said the raid was planned well in advance.

"To get six SWAT teams and 100 more cops together from other departments is tough work," Poirier said. "Then there are the search warrants to write so the judges will approve what you're trying to do. We feel bad about Chauncey's death."

He referred to one instance several years ago when police in several squad cars arrived at the bakery but backed off when confronted by angry employees.

"You have to be careful with them. When you send two officers to a scene and 40 angry people appear, is it worth going through with that ticket for littering?" he said.

Poirier said police now have responded with force of their own. "Go over to that bakery today and you'll see: They're closed," he said. "We sent a message to those people and to the residents in the neighborhood who have to live among these characters: We don't shy away from them one bit."

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