Bullet hits Oakland first-grader as she sleeps

We hear that 6-year-old Leslie Ramirez will survive the horror she experienced overnight.

Police say some 20 rounds were fired into her family’s East Oakland home in what might have been a gang-related attack. One of the bullets hit Leslie’s arm and went into her chest. As of this afternoon the first-grader was conscious and in stable condition at Children’s Hospital Oakland.

Leslie goes to Greenleaf Elementary, the East Oakland school I blogged about the other week. Her classmates made cards for her today, to cheer her up, and counselors came out to the campus.

Monica Thomas, Greenleaf’s principal, said most of her students live close to the school, which is on East 17th Street near 64th Avenue in East Oakland. Some of the parents told her they heard the shots that could have taken Leslie’s life.

“We thank God she’s OK, and we hope she remains OK,” Thomas said today.

Here is a letter that went home to Greenleaf families today:

September 28, 2010

Dear Greenleaf Community,

As some of you may have heard, one of our families experienced an extremely frightening incident in the early hours of Tuesday morning. Greenleaf student Leslie Ramirez was struck by a bullet around 2:15 AM when gunmen opened fire on the home where she was sleeping. One bullet hit Leslie’s arm and traveled into her chest. Fortunately, she is conscious and stable although surgery may be required at some point. We are extremely relieved and grateful that this incredibly serious incident did not result in an even deeper tragedy.

Law enforcement is still investigating this crime and the details are relatively few although we have been assured that Leslie, who is just six years old, was not the intended target. What we do know is that the Greenleaf community is devastated by the news. Our hearts go out to Leslie and her family. We are supporting them in every way we can and will continue to do so. We are also assisting our students and staff as they cope with the grieving process. OUSD grief counselors are on call and everyone will have access to their services.

This tragic event underscores how much work we have to do in order to improve respect for human life and protect the children of this city. The Oakland Police Department is handling this case as a criminal matter. We ask that anyone who learns of information about the incident, or any information which suggests students may be endangered – no matter how minor it may seem – contact the school, the police or OUSD’s anonymous Tip Line at 510.532.4867. All tips provided here remain confidential and the Oakland School Police will investigate all reports to help ensure the safety of our students.

I would like to recognize Greenleaf’s students and staff for their strength and resilience in the face of this traumatic situation. Finally, we send our deepest condolences to Leslie’s family and friends.


Monica Thomas
Greenleaf Elementary

Katy Murphy

Education reporter for the Oakland Tribune. Contact me at kmurphy@bayareanewsgroup.com.

  • jesse james

    I am so glad to hear that she is conscious and stable. Please keep us posted. As a first grade teacher, the innocence and enthusiasm for life that that age has is priceless. Thank you again for keeping the district community together. Please let us know what the family needs.

  • Yet Another Oakland Teacher

    For those who wonder why kids don’t always succeed in our tougher neighborhoods- here’s why. And this was the second incident in two days with in two blocks according to the Trib. The whole community is permanently on edge, wondering what next. The kids develop very thick skins to survive. Survive is the operative term. The families of Greenleaf are lucky, Ms Thomas will bring in every form of help she can, and 4 years of hard work on the part of the teachers have paid off with academic success, but…..how much can the schools really do – provide a safe and structured environment 6 hours a day, meals, and reading, writing, and arithmetic. Living in a place with near constant gun play takes a huge toll on kids and families.

    When we can ensure relative safety the other 18 hours a day, as a society, our chances of global educational success will be much higher.

  • Nextset

    Interesting story. We will be seeing a lot more of these incidents. The factors that make the gangs stronger are on the upswing. The readers might want to start reading the Global Guerrillas blog: http://globalguerrillas.typepad.com/globalguerrillas/
    which does a good job of discussing the theory behind the rise of what you’d call “gangs”. An important factor is that as the “legitimate” government collapses, gangs (of all types) come into being and get stronger and more active. Power abhorrs a vacumn. What you see now is nothing compared to what awaits the US cities.

    If you send your kids to a “school” that is populated with gang children, attended by gang families, or situated in gang controlled territory, you are just going to have to expect these ups and downs. And you had best learn to comply with gang discipline – they do have it, you know. Urban schools refuse to say or do anything about these issues, pretending they can have a safe and sane “school” while allowing anyone to enroll and remain at any campus.

    This sort of thing is just one more reason to make sure your kid attends a school that does not atract or allow the children of gang associates to attend. Say a certain exclusive charter school or that type.

    As far as living in a neighborhood infested with gang associates – there is a reason for that also. Perhaps the families on the block are themselves involved, perhaps the families don’t care who they live near, perhaps they’ve been brainwashed with “tolerance” and see no problem with raising children in gang territory. Maybe they brushed against gangsters and offended them. Whatever happened you can be sure there was a very good reason for the attack on them – that this is and was predictable. And it will happen again given the same factors.

    Brave New World.

  • http://facebook.com/blackhour Reginald James

    Horrible. So grateful she has survived. Hopefully there is not major physical damage, and she will heal emotionally. Same for her classmates and family.

  • TheTruthHurts

    Tragic and yes, all too common. BTW, Nextset, gang violence is on the downswing. Murders are down. Crime is down. We have tremendous work to do, but I’m not buying theories without proof.

  • Nextset

    TruthHurts: Just keep saying things are getting better.

    Just keep saying gang violence is down.

    You have your reality and the rest of us have ours. We live in CA. People can see for themselves. Some people are so insulated from this that they can believe whatever they would like to. When it’s your turn to be a victim – you will howl at the government for not protecting you. I see that a lot. The “protection” is collapsing, and it is increasingly being withdrawn from minority neighborhoods which are “no go” zones.

    What do you expect to happen when Oakland (for example) lays off all those cops?

    Think of it as the physician using steroids to make a dying patient more comfortable as a fungal infection eats his lungs. Things are getting better, right? Steroids suppress the immune system further. Bye Bye.

    What you perceive as getting better is the calm before the storm. The factors favoring anarchy are getting stronger in the US urban areas. And the rotten schools contribute to it. Unemployable adolescent males will join the first gang that will have them. The females will fall in line with the males. It’s like a job for them.

    You might want to start reading John Robb’s Global Guerrillas blog which tracks such things. http://globalguerrillas.typepad.com/globalguerrillas/

  • Cranky Teacher

    Civic professionals — an HR director for a large California city, for example — have told me there is very little, if any, statistical correlation between the number of police and the level of crime in a community.

    My guess is cops act more as guards to keep crime ghettoized, in the most accurate sense of the word.

  • Nextset

    Cranky has an interesting point. So far, victimization has a lot to do with who we are speaking of.

    Some people just make good victims. Especially products of public schools.

    Brave New World.

  • Katy Murphy

    I just got the below news release from the Oakland Police Department:

    Oakland police asking for the community’s help

    On 28 Sep 2010 at 2:16 a.m. a six year old girl was shot as she slept in her parent’s bed in the 1600 block of Seminary Ave. She survived her injuries and is a truly brave and heroic little girl. Oakland Police Felony Assault investigators have been working diligently on the case. This disturbing crime is still unsolved. We are asking for the public’s help in bringing a sense of justice to the victim and her family. This was an act of senseless violence perpetrated against an innocent child. Anyone who has any information regarding this case is asked to call the Criminal Investigation Division-Sgt.P.Gonzales at 510-238-3328. Crime Stoppers has offered a reward of up to $10,000 for information that leads to an arrest in this case.

    The Oakland Police would like to remind the community that Oakland is a sanctuary city. The Police Department is not interested in community members’ residence status and you will not be asked questions regarding your residency status at anytime during the course of your contact with the officers.

  • Gordon Danning
  • J.R.

    There is always evidence on both sides of a discussion, and I think tend to think Cranky is more correct than this report because:

    1. 99+% of the time police are at the crime scene after the fact.

    2. Not having enough officers means that the best that the police can do is to keep crime “localized” to certain high crime areas.

    In these desperate times there will be even more desperate people, and society will break down even more, not to mention the fact that as a society we help and encourage irresponsible people to breed(welfare,AFDC,Section 8)and produce even more irresponsible people, and we just cannot sustain or contain it.

  • Gordon Danning

    I dunno, J.R. Technically, neither you nor Cranky have presented any evidence at all …

    And, of course police are at the crime scene after the fact 99% of the time. That’s not the argument, is it? Isnt the argument that police presence deters crime, so that many places do not become crime scenes in the first place?

  • JR

    My point is that you cannot in any way shape or form, answer the question or even prove how much police presence affects a community(the only thing that we know is that having police is better than not having police), because more often than not the police cannot be there in time. These criminals are dim, but are smart enough to know that the police are stretched very thin. There is no evidence or proof to be had to answer the question. Some communities are safer than others because neighbors are looking out for neighbors and that is probably the best deterrent to crime, neighborhood watch works.