The Presidio’s Tides Foundation apparent target of attack by heavily armed suspect

Tides Foundation
Photo: B.Mason
After CHP officers had a shootout with a Tuolumne County man July 17, they say they discovered his plans to kill staffers at the ACLU in San Francisco and at the Tides Foundation in the Presidio.
Byron Williams, 45, was stopped by police for speeding while driving his mother’s Toyota Tundra on Interstate 580 at Harrison Street in Oakland.

A 12-minute gun battle ensued. Williams was wearing body armor and had a number of weapons, including a .308-caliber armor-piercing rifle. Police say he was on his way to kill people who work at the ACLU as well as the Tides Foundation, which supports progressive causes. Located at the Thoreau Center in the Presidio, next to the Letterman Digital Arts Center, Tides has been singled out for criticism by Fox News’ Glenn Beck as being a danger to American society. In turn, the Tides Foundation says Beck’s remarks drive “unbalanced” people like Williams to turn to violence. This gives new meaning to Fox’s vaunted motto, “fair and balanced.” The Tides Foundation issued this statement:

Statement from Tides CEO Drummond Pike

“We are greatly dismayed to learn from law enforcement officials that the man arrested over the weekend (July 17) following a shootout with the CHP had targeted the Tides Foundation for violence. To the best of our knowledge, this person has never had contact with any Tides organization or program. As there is an ongoing investigation into this incident, we will not speculate as to what his motivations may have been.

“We are relieved that no one other than the assailant was hurt seriously in the incident, and we are relieved that he was prevented from carrying out his misguided plans, whatever they may have been.

“On occasion, the shadow of violence falls on American civic life and it should never be accepted or tolerated. Often, it is encouraged by partisan voices who label activities of which they disapprove by suggesting they are “anti-American” or some other epithet.

“This incident serves to remind us that it should be the obligation of every American, especially those whose voices are amplified by the media, to foster civil discourse and dialogue among those who may disagree about public matters. One does not win an argument by inciting unbalanced people to violence. As Americans, we know we are best at solving problems when we reach broadly across boundaries for the best of ideas. Intolerance that closes our eyes defeats our aspirations.

“The Tides organizations support innovative, creative nonprofit work to address social problems. We work for sustainability, better education, solutions to the AIDS epidemic, comprehensive immigration reform, and human rights. We strive to encourage every American to be as involved in public life as they can be and to resolve differences through the honest exchange of ideas.”

Suspect remains in custody

The suspect was taken to Highlands Hospital in Oakland for treatment of wounds sustained during the I-580 shootout. He appeared at his arraignment on July 20 and now faces four attempted murder charges and three felony weapons possession charges.
Williams, a convicted bank robber who was released from federal prison in 2008, currently has two convictions on his record. Charges in connection with this arrest could result in a “third strike” under California sentencing rules, meaning a possibility of 25 years to life in prison if convicted.