SLIDESHOW: Groveland man fires on CHP officers in Oakland
GROVELAND, CA - The mother of a Groveland man who opened fire on California Highway Patrol officers during a traffic stop in Oakland early Sunday said her son was upset with the government and had a difficult time rebuilding his life following a prison term.
Janice Williams said Sunday that she had not been contacted by authorities Sunday following the early morning shootout on Interstate Highway 580 between a body-armored man carrying multiple weapons and CHP officers.
But Williams said she knew the gunman was her son, 45-year-old Byron Williams.
"I have no doubt it is him," Williams said. "I looked in my driveway. My truck was gone, and then went to my gun safe and my guns were gone."
CHP officers say the license plate of the white Toyota pickup truck stopped for speeding and weaving through traffic at the Harrison Street on-ramp to 580 just after midnight Sunday morning did belong to Janice Williams. CHP Sgt. Trent Cross eventually confirmed Williams was the gunman late Sunday afternoon.
As officers approached the truck, they saw firearms in the vehicle and gunfire was exchanged as the officers moved back to their car and called for backup, Cross said.
Cross said Williams was shot several times and taken to Highland Hospital in serious condition.
Janice Williams said she had no idea her son may have been involved in the exchange before being contacted by news media. She said Bryon had been unable to get a job since being released from prison more than 2 years ago for a bank robbery conviction.
"He's ruined his life because now he is going back to prison and he's ruined mine because he is my only son," Williams said.
Williams said her son had also felt ostricized at church following his parole.
In addition to his job woes, Byron was extremely upset over the U.S. political climate, often ranting at the TV about how his rights were being taken away by the government.
"He's been upset with the direction the country is going," Williams said. "He feels the people of this country are being raped by our government and politicians."
Williams said her son also blamed politicians for destroying the U.S. economy.
Criminal records show Byron C. Williams was a parolee driving on a suspended license with an arrest history including assault, property destruction, a DUI, hit and run and theft.
Williams said she did not know her son had body armor and knew nothing of explosives Byron may have had in his possession.
Neighbors in the area said they believed Byron Williams lived with his mother, but otherwise knew nothing about him.
"I found out (Williams was here) when the Sheriff told me he moved back in," said neighbor Thomas Funk. "I never met him, and I didn't even know who he was."
The truck was briefly cordoned off Sunday morning while an Alameda County bomb squad robot investigated the vehicle. A possible device was detonated, but the object turned out to be items taped together.
CHP officer Sam Morgan said there were multiple high-powered weapons, ammunition and a homemade notebook on California found inside the truck.
"Clearly, this particular person was en route somewhere to inflict a great bodily harm," Morgan told sister station KGO.