Family members and friends prayed and shared stories about Blueford, who attended Tracy High School until 2010 and was set to graduate in June from Skyline High east of Oakland, according to his cousin Tanesha Blye.
Blueford allegedly ran from officers and during a foot chase was shot three times by an officer, “under the stated belief that the suspect posed an immediate, lethal threat,” according to a press release issued Tuesday, May 8, by the Oakland Police Department.
Two officers reportedly recovered a pistol at the scene that they said belonged to the person they were chasing, whom they later identified as Blueford, according to the release.
A fourth shot that was fired by the officer, the release states, struck that officer in the foot.
The officer’s name has not been released, and the incident is under investigation.
Blye and others who gathered at the Elissagaray subdivision park called for justice, saying Blueford was the victim of racial profiling and an unnecessarily aggressive police response.
The Rev. Zacchaeus Dunham, pastor at Agape Church in Tracy, where Blueford’s family
attends services, prayed with the crowd asking for God to give strength to those who gathered and for justice to be served.
“We’re not going to let this go,” he told the crowd. “We’re not going to sweep this under the rug. We want vindication.”
Blueford was approached by officers while apparently waiting for a ride from some friends after watching the Floyd Mayweather-Miguel Cotto boxing match on May 5, according to family members.
Blueford and two other men, who were on 90th Avenue in Oakland, were stopped “based on observations regarding a potentially concealed firearm,” the police release states.
But Blye and others who knew Blueford disputed the police department’s version of events.
“That was not Alan’s character,” Blye said. “He made mistakes, but that was not Alan’s character. ... It’s hard to believe he’d even have a firearm.”
One of the mistakes Blye referred to involved a juvenile conviction for felony burglary on Blueford’s record, though Blye insisted it was a nonviolent offense. Blueford was on probation in San Joaquin County for the burglary offense at the time of the shooting, according to Oakland police.
San Joaquin County court records also indicate that charges of second-degree robbery against Blueford in 2011 were dismissed, according to Stephanie Bohrer at the Stockton San Joaquin Superior Court.
Blye, however, said her younger cousin was on the right track and was studying hard to finish his classes so he could graduate this year from Skyline.
She also said the Oakland Police Department originally reported that there was an exchange of gunfire. The Tuesday press release states that “several independent witnesses” said Blueford pointed a gun at police.
Blye also said police neglected to tell Blueford’s parents in a timely manner about their son’s death.
Relatives feel the police lied to them, Blye said, which has prompted them to seek justice on Blueford’s behalf.
She invited those attending the Wednesday vigil to another vigil in front of the Oakland Police Department headquarters at 5 p.m. Friday, May 11. There will also be a march from the corner of 90th Avenue and Birch Street in Oakland to the nearest police substation beginning at 3 p.m. Saturday, May 12.
Blye said the family has also sought help from attorney John Burris, who represented the family of Oscar Grant after Grant was shot to death by a BART police officer on New Year’s Day, 2009.
At Wednesday’s event, as the sun set and candles were lit, family members and friends shared memories about a “bright young man” taken too soon from his community.
“My son Alan had a great heart,” said his father, Adam Blueford. “My son Alan was on his way to great things.”
Friends talked of Blueford’s wide smile and genuine nature.
Coaches from the Tracy Raiders — now the Tracy Bulldogs — youth football team also recalled Blueford as a hard-charging, clean-playing athlete who desperately wanted to play the sport at the next level.
All who spoke expressed sympathy and commitment to Blueford’s family.
“As a family, it’s the hardest thing we’ve had to go through,” said Blueford’s sister, Ashley Blueford.