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Outpouring of sympathy for slain Oakland officers

OAKLAND, Calif. – The brutal deaths of four Oakland police officers prompted an outpouring of sympathy Tuesday, from makeshift memorials to donations to a vigil that drew hundreds to the scene of some of the weekend’s bloodshed.

The night before, the last officer critically wounded in the incident was taken off life support. John Hege, 41, was declared brain dead Sunday, but family members kept him on life support until Monday to donate his heart, liver and kidneys, in keeping with his wishes, said Alameda County Medical Center spokeswoman Andrea Breaux.

At Oakland police headquarters, so many cards, flowers and prayer candles had been left at the side entrance that people coming in and out of the building had to squeeze past the condolences.

Inside, a row of oversized floral displays perfumed the lobby. Nearby stood an easel bearing a black T-shirt printed with the words “Rest in Peace” and silkscreened images of the four officers killed.

“Oakland needs to be healed,” Rev. John Clark of Praise Fellowship Church told the crowd gathered for the evening candlelight vigil. “Guns needs to be laid down, and communication needs to be picked up.”

Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums thanked the crowd for coming out and said that President Obama had reached out to offer sympathies to the families of the slain officers. He then made a plea for peace.

“Hopefully this opens a widening door to a vision of a community without violence, without killings, without war,” he said. “Go in peace.”

After the vigil, dozens of people gathered at a makeshift memorial for Lovelle Mixon, the parolee accused of shooting the four officers before being killed in a gunfight.

A funeral for the officers was scheduled for Friday morning at Oracle Arena. Meanwhile, thousands of dollars in donations for the officers’ families continued to pour in, including a $10,000 gift from a southern California Indian tribe.

Police said Hege and his partner, Sgt. Mark Dunakin, were gunned down when the two motorcycle officers pulled over Mixon on Saturday.

In the manhunt that followed, two more officers – Sgt. Ervin Romans, 43, and Sgt. Daniel Sakai, 35 – died when the city’s SWAT team stormed an apartment where Mixon was hiding. Mixon was killed in the shootout.

Acting Police Chief Howard Jordan commended a bystander who rushed to the aid of the officers shot at the traffic stop. Clarence Ellis tried to stop Dunakin’s bleeding before first responders arrived, the chief said.

The day before the traffic stop, Oakland investigators had gotten information possibly linking Mixon to a February rape. DNA found at the scene was a probable match to Mixon, police spokesman Jeff Thomason said.

In an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle published Tuesday, Sgt. Kevin Wiley said the victim in that rape case was a 12-year-old girl who was threatened at gunpoint, dragged off the street and sexually assaulted in a secluded area between homes. Investigators also told the Chronicle that Mixon may have committed as many as five other rapes in the area.

Wiley did not return a call by The Associated Press, and Thomason refused to discuss details of the rape case Tuesday.

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