Honor Roll

William L. Martin

On the evening of October 9, 1970, four men, dubbed the Lee Street gang, pulled up in front of the Royal Inn on lower Hegenberger Road. Three of them donned masks and entered the Inn and accosted a bookkeeper, holding him at gunpoint. Thwarted in their efforts to access the safe, the trio entered the bar in search of the manager. Demanding that the manager come forth, one of the suspects fired off a round into the ceiling. Then they returned to the office and fired another round, this time striking a payroll clerk in the hip. The suspects ran out of the hotel and climbed into their getaway car, a light-colored Thunderbird.

They sped north on Hegenberger Road as phone calls came into the department. A citizen monitoring the police band radio heard a dispatcher sending officers to the hotel and alerted Oakland Police Department through his short-wave radio that the suspect vehicle was fleeing the area. Sgt. Richard Castle and Officer William Martin spotted the Thunderbird and gave chase. All the cars proceeded north on the Nimitz Freeway towards downtown Oakland.

The Thunderbird left the freeway at the Oak Street off-ramp, quickly followed by the officers. The robbers drove around the block and stopped on 6th Street between Oak and Fallon. Two suspects jumped out of the vehicle, which sped away towards North Oakland. Castle rounded the corner and was immediately fired upon. The suspects advanced on his car continuing to shoot at him. As one of the suspects proceeded to flee, he rounded a corner at the same time as Martin. Each man fired shots simultaneously. The suspect was killed outright. Martin fell to the ground, mortally wounded.

The second suspect at the shooting scene was taken into custody. When the Thunderbird’s driver arrived at his apartment, numerous officers were waiting for him. He made it into his apartment and took his own life. The remaining suspect was later identified and taken into custody near Lake Merritt.

Castle recovered from his wounds and returned to duty. Martin, 24, passed away at Merritt Hospital. He had been a member of the Oakland Police Department for 18 months.