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Byron Williams, Man Held In California Highway Shootout, Upset At 'Left-Wing Agenda'

AP/The Huffington Post   First Posted: 07/19/10 06:06 PM ET Updated: 05/25/11 06:05 PM ET

Byron Williams
(AP File Photo)

(AP) OAKLAND, Calif. -- A convicted felon armed with three guns and wearing a bulletproof vest opened fire on California Highway Patrol officers for several minutes during a traffic stop on an Oakland freeway Sunday before he was shot several times and wounded, authorities said.

Byron Christopher Williams, 45, of Groveland was in serious but stable condition Sunday night at Highland Hospital and was expected to survive despite being shot in the arm, side, leg and foot, said CHP Sgt. Trent Cross. Cross described Williams' condition as serious but stable.

Cross said Williams had an "extensive criminal history," and another conviction would mean a third strike under California law.

Williams was armed with a high-powered rifle, a shotgun, a handgun and body armor, Cross said. Officers also discovered a suspicious device they could not identify, and a bomb squad was called to the freeway to detonate it, Cross said.

"He was bold enough to take shots at the police, and he was in possession of bullet proof vests and guns," Cross said. "There is no doubt he was on his way to do something pretty serious."

Williams' mother Janice Williams told the San Francisco Chronicle that her son, who lives next door to her, was angry that as an ex-felon he could not get a job, and upset at "the way Congress was railroading through all these left-wing agenda items."

"He hasn't been able to get a job because he's an ex-felon and nobody will hire him," his mother also told the Chronicle, saying that he was unhappy with his continued unemployment and "what's happening to our country."

Janice Williams said she had legally purchased guns she kept in a safe, and learned they were missing Sunday.

The woman said she kept the guns because she someday expected some sort of revolution." But said she had told her son "he didn't have to be on the front lines."

"Something snapped," she said. "His life is over. He will go back to prison for the rest of his life. Our lives are over."

A phone message left by The Associated Press Sunday night at a number listed for Janice Williams was not immediately returned.

Officers did not know if Byron Williams had hired an attorney.

The trouble began shortly after midnight Sunday when two officers pulled over a white 2006 Toyota Tundra that was speeding and weaving on Interstate 580, the CHP said.

The driver opened fire on the officers who returned fire and called for backup. Eventually 10 officers fired weapons in the shootout before the suspect was subdued, the CHP said.

Two officers, who have not been identified, suffered minor injuries from flying glass but none were hit by bullets.

The incident caused traffic headaches in the San Francisco Bay area. The entire westbound side of I-580 was closed for most of the day while authorities investigated, and lanes remained close late Sunday night.

The freeway shootout came less than a day after Oakland and Bay Area Rapid Transit police officers shot and killed a man after they said he ran from officers and then charged at them while holding two knives

Both incidents are being investigated by Oakland police and additional agencies.

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