July 14, 2024
The attempted murder of two-time city council candidate Mario Juarez came just 11 days before widespread FBI raids targeting the home of Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao and a family involved in recycling and home building, with business ties to Juarez.

OAKLAND — It had all the makings of a targeted hit.

At least three suspects in cars with obstructed or stolen plates cased the East Oakland home of two-time city council candidate Mario Juarez, pulled up behind his parked Chevrolet Suburban, vandalized the vehicle, then opened fire at Juarez when he stepped outside to investigate, authorities said.

A would-be assassin fired an estimated nine times at the prominent political activist and local businessman, who hit the deck and fired four shots from his registered .40-caliber Glock pistol as bullets whizzed past and struck his home. The suspects fled and Juarez called 911, then told responding officers that he believed the attempt on his life was “retaliation” for his involvement in a criminal investigation. He refused to provide details, according to authorities and a police report.

In the month since the June 9 shooting, Juarez has become a central figure in an ongoing criminal investigation that led to a series of June 20 FBI raids. Federal investigators searched a home belonging to Mayor Sheng Thao and her partner, Andre Jones, as well as the residences of Oakland businessman David Duong and his son, Andy Duong.

A federal grand jury has convened to weigh possible criminal charges and has ordered the city of Oakland to preserve any records related to the recycling company and the Duongs, well-known for their political dealings and ownership of the recycling company California Waste Solutions. City officials were also told to preserve and hand over communications related to Jones and calendar entries for both Jones and Thao.

Juarez is a longtime business owner who has been active in local politics for decades. His numerous business ventures have included debt collection, entertainment, real estate, clean energy, and — most recently — a company called Evolutionary Homes LLC, which sells shipping containers, and was founded by Juarez and the Duongs. The home building company is also named in a federal grand jury subpoena sent June 25 to the city of Oakland, which lists Juarez and other representatives or employees.

Juarez has also been facing active criminal charges since January, when Alameda County prosecutors accused him of bouncing checks totaling $53,600 for 120,000 mailers targeting Thao’s chief rival, Loren Taylor, and others during the 2022 mayoral campaign.

By the time gunmen showed up to Juarez’s home on June 9, Oakland police were already investigating an apparent fallout between him and the Duongs, which reportedly resulted in violence and death threats.

Andy Duong told police that Juarez threatened him and his family on May 3, allegedly claiming to have connections with a “cartel” that would back him up. Juarez later claimed he was the victim of a vicious assault orchestrated by the Duongs, and that he escaped with serious injuries, the San Francisco Chronicle reported Tuesday.

One detail is undisputed: the incident occurred at the Embarcadero waterfront office in Oakland for both California Waste Solutions and Evolutionary Homes, the very suite that was raided by the FBI on June 20.

As for the attempted killing of Juarez, authorities say that he and his son had returned home from Tracy on the night of June 9 shortly before the shooting occurred. Juarez would later tell police that he heard a commotion, grabbed his gun and went outside to investigate.

When he opened his door, he said, he saw a man who appeared to be in the front seat of Juarez’s Chevrolet. But his attention was quickly captured by a second man who came from a car double-parked behind the Chevrolet, raised a gun and fired an estimated nine times at Juarez, who returned fire. No one was struck by gunfire and the suspects left before police arrived, authorities said.

Juarez told police he believed the attack was in response to his involvement in an “investigation” but didn’t elaborate, according to police. While police were securing the crime scene, neighbors reported that there were actually two to three shootings within the span of 20 minutes that night, a fact that authorities say was confirmed by the city’s gunfire detection system and video surveillance in the area.

According to the police investigation, two vehicles — both equipped with either partially obstructed, stolen, or illegitimate paper license plates — were seen driving back and forth around Juarez’s house near Fruitvale Avenue and Foothill Boulevard a little before 10 p.m. Around 9:50 p.m., someone threw a brick through a window of the Suburban and a man opened fire at the vehicle. The suspects returned roughly 15 minutes later and this time, a man of a different description fired at Juarez, prompting the gunfight.

Juarez’s lawyer, who has previously called the fraud charges against him “politically motivated,” declined to comment for this story. Oakland police have not announced any arrests in their ongoing attempted murder investigation stemming from the June 9 shooting.