The editor of a weekly newspaper in Oakland was gunned down as he walked to work Thursday morning in what police called a contract killing.
Chauncey Bailey, 57, recently promoted to editor of the Oakland Post, was shot at 7:30 a.m. not far from his office. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
Witnesses told police that a gunman in dark clothing approached Bailey and shot him multiple times before fleeing. He was shot in the back and in the head.
Roland Holmgren, a spokesman for the Oakland Police Department, said officials were treating the crime as a contract killing “because of the witness statements, the shooter’s mannerisms and how the crime was committed.”
Oakland Police Lt. Derrick Norfleet said the gunman was wearing a mask. After firing several shots, he ran to a waiting van and escaped.
Bailey, a former reporter for the Oakland Tribune, was promoted in June to editor of the Post, the largest African American-run newspaper in Northern California.
Before his promotion, as a Post reporter, he mainly wrote political and human-interest stories.
He recently traveled to Vietnam for a story, said Gwendolyn Carter, advertising manager of the 50,000-circulation paper.
“He loved politics and writing about people,” she said. “He just did a story on a lady who just recently found her son after 40 years of being separated.”
Holmgren said Bailey, who lived in Oakland, was known for his aggressive style of questioning public officials.
But colleagues said he rarely did the kind of investigative stories that might have earned him enemies.
“People might be upset at him, but Chauncey didn’t go around making enemies,” Carter said. “He was a wonderful guy. He was my big brother, and I was his little sister.”
Police on Thursday were trying to piece together Bailey’s routine and whether he was so habitual in his schedule that the killer could have lain in wait.
“We’re exploring everything,” Holmgren said. “We just don’t know if there was something related to his job that was the root of this. There’s nothing glaring at the moment.”
Bailey’s one dozen colleagues were in shock.
“No one here has any idea at all how this could have happened,” said John Bowens, an advertising consultant at the paper.
“You see things on TV that just don’t seem real,” he said. “I know what people mean when they say that now. It’s like a horror movie.”