Teen charged as adult for murder of man in Shoreline Park in Oakland

OAKLAND (BCN) — A 17-year-old boy was arraigned on a murder charge in adult court Friday for an incident at an Oakland park on Monday night in which he told police that he fatally shot an older man in the back of his head because the man had become obsessed with him.

Jose Israel Espinoza Lopez is scheduled to return to the Wiley Manuel Courthouse in Oakland on Monday to be assigned an attorney and possibly enter a plea to the charge stemming from the death of 38-year-old Omar Gomez-Saldana, a Hayward man whose body was found about 9 a.m. on Tuesday by a visitor who was walking at the Martin Luther King Jr. Regional Shoreline.

The visitor spotted Gomez-Saldana’s body in a grassy area off the Bay Trail in an area just south of Damon Slough and called police and flagged down an Oakland officer nearby, according to East Bay Regional Park District spokeswoman Carolyn Jones.

Lopez was arrested on Wednesday afternoon when California Highway Patrol Officers spotted him driving Gomez-Saldana’s car on Interstate Highway 580 in Oakland.

East Bay Regional Park District police Officer Janet Harkness wrote in a probable cause statement that Lopez told police that he and Gomez-Saldana had a prior dating relationship but the older man “had become obsessed with Lopez to the point where Lopez was trying to decide how to get rid of Gomez-Saldana to keep the relationship secret.”

Harkness said Lopez said he had been thinking for several weeks about how to handle the situation and finally asked a friend to get a gun, a black Smith and Wesson .44-caliber revolver, although he didn’t tell his friend why he wanted the gun and the friend didn’t ask.

According to Harkness, Lopez told police that he got the gun on Monday morning and contacted Gomez-Saldana at about 6:30 p.m. to go out.

Lopez and Gomez-Saldana went to the Martin Luther King Jr. Regional Shoreline, parked at the Damon Slough staging area and walked into the park, according to the probable cause statement.

Harkness said Lopez said he told Gomez-Saldana to turn around because he needed to urinate so Gomez-Saldana did so, urinating as well, and he then fired a single shot which hit Gomez-Saldana in the back of the head.

Lopez told police that he later knew Gomez-Saldana was dead because he heard it on the news, Harkness said.

Lopez said he got scared after the shooting, ran back to Gomez-Saldana’s Nissan Versa and drove away, according to Harkness.

Lopez said he later met with his friend near Lake Merritt and returned the revolver to him, although the friend wasn’t aware of what had transpired with the gun, Harkness said.

When police searched Gomez-Saldana’s home in Hayward, they discovered bank statements with his credit card numbers and later learned that his credit card had been used in Oakland several times on Wednesday, the day after his body was found, Harkness said.

Among the places where the credit card was used was at a McDonald’s at 25th Avenue and International Boulevard, she said.

When police searched Gomez-Saldana’s car and Lopez’s home after they arrested Lopez, they found Gomez-Saldana’s wallet and credit card in a bag that contained Lopez’s homework and cellphone, according to Harkness.

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