SAN JOSE, Calif. – Pastors of several African American churches have asked the Cupertino cement plant employee responsible for fatally shooting three people to surrender to the authorities immediately. Now indentified as Shareef Allman, age 47, the whereabouts of the suspect remains unknown at the moment.
“We want to say to Shareef- please if you can hear us, we are praying for you right now and we are hoping that you would just turn yourself in and bring this to an end,” said Rev. Lee Wilson, senior pastor of Open Bible Faith Community Church.
“And your daughter needs you, and there are people around you that love you,” Wilson added during an outdoor press conference in front of the African American Community Service Agency in downtown San Jose.
The group consisting of pastors and community activist also expressed concerns for the victims and their families.
“We are very concerned and our hearts reach out to you and we are praying for you also,” emphasized Rev. Oscar Dace, senior pastor of the Bible Way Christian center. “And we believe that God’s going to give you peace.”
Three people were killed while seven others were injured in the attack. One of the injured has been brought to the Stanford Medical center, while the Santa Clara Valley Medical Center has received two. The identity and the extent of the injuries of the victims have not been released.
However, the pastors promised to help the alleged gunman turn himself in safely. “We will do whatever we can to facilitate your safe surrender,” said Dr. Tony Williams, pastor of Marantha Christian Center.
The incident started at around 4:30 a.m. on Wednesday at the limestone quarry of the Lehigh Southwest Cement plant at 24001 Stevens Creek Blvd., when the suspect, Shareef Allman, arrived at a workers’ safety briefing. Allman apparently opened fire on his fellow colleagues, said Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Dept. spokesman Lt. Rick Sung.
Afterwards, Allman left the work site in his own car, Three hours later, the alleged gunman commandeered another vehicle after shooting and injuring the woman driver, Sung added. Police later found Allman’s abandoned car, which contained four weapons that included two assault rifles. However, he still considered armed and dangerous, police officials.
SWAT officers hanging off the sides of armored cars have been conducting house-to-house searches along the Cupertino-Sunnyvale border. Authorities asked residents to stay indoors at all times. Officers from Gilroy, Santa Clara and Sunnyvale have also participated in the search.
School in the area have either closed or have gone into immediate lockdown. The Laurelwood Elementary School has evacuated at 7:45 a.m. Good Samaritan Preschool on Homestead road is currently under lockdown with members of staff posted at each door. Some schools in the Cupertino Union school district remain opened because students had been arriving when the news broke, and many parents had already gone to work.
A single parent, Allman lives with his teenage daughter in northern San Jose, where an officer bearing a rifle stands guard since midday. Reporters have not been allowed into the Allman residency. Those whom have known him remain dumbfounded and cannot explain the motive behind the deadly shooting.
“His [Allman’s] life was just to help out people, and any time he called me – almost without exception – he was trying to help somebody,” commented Walter Wilson, a member of the board at the African American Community Service Agency (AACSA).
Prior to the shooting, Allman led an active community life serving at churches and youth outreach. He also produced programs for San Jose public access TV channel CreaTV, though he is not an employee there. In 2007, Allman authored a book, “Amazing Grace,” that dealt with issues involving domestic violence.
“He’s been a nice gentleman. I didn’t believe what I saw on TV. He’s a very nice young man. He helped out the community,” acquaintance Denise Par-Ran, said while choking back tears. Par-Ran explained that Allman made frequent visits to the French Quarter Cabaret dance club in downtown Sunnyvale, where she often seen him perform routines on stage.
“This is not you, you have beautiful daughter,” Par-Ran added. “Come down to the pastor and talk to the pastor, and have him to turn in with you, if possible.”
Other people whom have known Allman expressed utter loss.
“It has been hurtful and shocking,” said Rev. Jethroe “Jeff” Moore II, president of the San Jose/Silicon Valley chapter of the NAACP. “It involved a lot of lives and lives have been lost, but we’ve also lost Shareef,” Moore continued. “He has been a positive role model for us, and so it’s just hurt, a lot of hurt.”
Hudson Tsuei contributed to this report from San Jose, Calif.