Boss of slain Oakland journalist reports death threat
By Thomas Peele, Chauncey Bailey Project
Police placed Oakland Post publisher Paul Cobb and another man under protection Wednesday night after the man said two men he once knew to be associated with Your Black Muslim Bakery offered him $3,000 to lure Cobb to a place where they intended to kill him.The threat came five months after the Post’s editor, Chauncey Bailey, was shot to death as he walked to work on Aug. 2 near Alice and 14th streets. A bakery associate, Devaughndre Broussard, then 19, confessed the next day to killing Bailey because the journalist was planning a story on the business’ troubled finances, police said. Broussard later recanted and is awaiting trial.
The man, 60, was also one of the witnesses to Bailey’s slaying and had recently been befriended by the editor, who sometimes bought him coffee at a local McDonald’s. He first met Cobb at the shooting scene. The man said he was also a bakery associate more than a decade ago, and he knew the two men who approached him from his time there.
Cobb made a series of phone calls to city officials and police Chief Wayne Tucker on Wednesday night asking for protection for himself and for the man.
“I am worried for my safety and for my wife’s safety,” he said.
Tucker was tight-lipped when reached Wednesday night.
“We have been in contact with Mr. Cobb and other persons regarding the most recent developments,” Tucker said. “The department takes any information regarding threats to persons very seriously, and we act on them very seriously. We have ongoing concerns about anybody whose lives have been threatened.
Citing what he called “an ongoing investigation involving alleged crimes associated with Your Black Muslim Bakery,” Tucker wouldn’t discuss the matter further.
The man spent several hours at the Post’s office Wednesday.
“They wanted me to set up Mr. Cobb for a few thousand dollars,” the man said shortly after a city police officer took statements from him and Cobb.
The man said he was approached in the area of Lake Merritt on Wednesday morning by two men that he only identified by Muslim first names. He said he knew them and exchanged a traditional greeting in Arabic. He said they then offered him money “to set up” Cobb. Cobb was returning to his office after returning from an appearance in the city by former President Bill Clinton when he found the man outside the Post’s office.
Cobb called police and said he was surprised when the first officers who responded were homicide detectives who said they were working on the investigation of Bailey’s killing. Both he and the man spoke with them.
A uniformed officer, Anthony Banks, later took statements about the threats.
Cobb said he reacted hesitantly at first, telling the man “you’ll go to jail” for making a false police report if the information were untrue. The man stuck with the story.
The Post’s Wednesday night deadline was missed as Cobb spoke with police and gave an interview to a reporter for the Chauncey Bailey Project. Cobb said he expected the paper’s Friday edition to be published on time but with a later press run.
Cobb has been reluctant to say much publicly since Bailey’s slaying and has received other threats in the weeks following it. He said he was unsure why someone would want him killed now.
The bakery headquarters on San Pablo Avenue in North Oakland was recently sold through U.S. Bankruptcy Court proceedings to a nonprofit group that offers services to people with AIDS. The bakery’s former CEO, Yusuf Ali Bey IV, is jailed and awaiting trial in a kidnapping and torture case and an unrelated real estate fraud case.
Bey IV, a son of the bakery founder Yusuf Bey, claimed in a taped interview with police that he didn’t know Bailey was working on a story about the bakery until after he was killed. Broussard, in the confession he later recanted, said he acted alone.
Shortly after the shooting, police said it appeared unlikely Broussard conceived of the crime and executed it without help. They have made no other arrests.
Another bakery associate, Antoine Mackey, who roomed with Broussard and knew him from the Western Addition neighborhood of San Francisco where they both grew up, was seen driving a white van away from the bakery the morning of the killing, the van’s owner told police.
The van was later seen near the shooting scene, and Broussard claimed he used it to get there.
Mackey has not been charged. There is a warrant for his arrest out of San Francisco issued in mid-August for failure to appear for a court hearing.
Chauncey Bailey Project reporter Mary Fricker contributed to this report. Peele is an investigative reporter for the Bay Area News Group and the Bailey project. Reach him at email@example.com or 510-208-6458.