Fourth suspect charged with murder of Oakland mother

A fourth suspect has been charged with murder in a West Oakland gun battle on March 9 that claimed the life of a mother who was caught in crossfire as she was trying to help two of her children to safety, authorities said Tuesday.

Michael Stills, 21, who was arrested on Thursday and arraigned on Monday, is scheduled to return to Alameda County Superior Court in Oakland on Wednesday morning to be assigned an attorney and possibly enter a plea to the murder charge that stems from the fatal shooting of 30-year-old Chyemil Pierce outside her home in the 2800 block of Chestnut Street at about 4:45 p.m. on March 9.

Oakland police said Pierce, who worked as a human resources specialist at Kaiser Permanente, was trying to rush her children to safety when she was shot. The shooting occurred after groups of male suspects got involved in a fight between female subjects on the street, according to police.

The suspects who were previously charged with murder and other crimes for the fatal shooting are Shelton McDaniels and Jerry Harbin, both 29, and Anthony Sims, 19, all of Oakland. They are all scheduled to return to court on April 13 to enter pleas. Prosecutors allege that Sims, Harbin and McDaniels all opened fire in the shootout that killed Pierce, who was hit by a bullet in the back of her head, but haven’t disclosed who fired the shot that killed her.

Stills is not charged with firing a gun during the incident but is accused of being armed with one. Prosecutors didn’t disclose what role they believe Stills played in the shooting. Prosecutors allege that all four defendants are legally responsible for the killing, no matter who fired the shot that claimed Pierce’s life.

Police said Sims admitted that he participated in a gun battle but his attorney said he only did so to protect a 16-year-old friend who was seriously wounded in the shooting and remains hospitalized.