With the support of the East Bay Regional Park District Police Department, the Ruenzel family of Oakland invites the media and public to join them in commemorating the 1-year anniversary of the death of David Ruenzel, a popular 60-year-old teacher and writer who was gunned down in Huckleberry Botanic Regional Preserve Nov. 25, 2014.
Mr. Ruenzel’s widow, Nancy Aldrich-Ruenzel, plans to speak about her husband, her family’s grief and healing, and the outpouring of community support at the 11 a.m. service, Sunday, Nov. 22 at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church, 2808 Lakeshore Ave., Oakland. After the service, she and representatives from the East Bay Regional Park District will be available to answer questions.
“Thousands of innocent loved ones die annually simply for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. While we mourn our loss, we mourn all such senseless losses and injustices everywhere in this country and the world, and we pray for a return to humanity and civility and justice,” said Mrs. Aldrich-Ruenzel. “Our hope is to bring attention to this so we can help other families, and to encourage witnesses to come forward to save future lives.”
On the afternoon of Nov. 25, 2014, Mr. Ruenzel had stopped at a local grocery to buy fish for a family dinner before dropping the fish at home and then heading to Huckleberry Regional Preserve for a quick hike. He parked at the trailhead near Skyline Boulevard and Elverton Drive and was about ¾ of a mile down the Upper Huckleberry Path when, at about 3:30 p.m., he was fatally shot by two assailants.
Police believe the suspects were already in the park and did not follow Mr. Ruenzel there. Although the killers took his wallet and a third suspect attempted to use Mr. Ruenzel’s ATM that evening in downtown Oakland, police do not believe robbery was the motive for the attack.
Mr. Ruenzel’s body was found by hikers not long after the shooting. Before fleeing the park, the suspects stopped and spoke to two separate park visitors, police said.
“This case is particularly troubling because the crime occurred in a remote location of the park,” said an East Bay Regional Park District police spokesman. “It is extremely rare for violent crimes to occur in such areas. We continue to believe the public’s assistance is crucial in providing information about the suspects and the circumstances of the crime.”
Friends and neighbors of the Ruenzel family, in coordination with the Park District, are offering a $25,000 reward for information leading to an arrest in Mr. Ruenzel’s case. The suspects are described as:
No. 1: Black male (possibly mixed race), late 20s or early 30s, dreadlocks or similar hair, medium complexion, high cheek bones, narrow face, thin build, wearing dark clothing and a long black trench coat.
No. 2: Black male, 6-foot, 240 pounds, clean shaven, short hair, stocky, wearing dark clothes and designer jeans. Witnesses described him as overly friendly, out of shape and well spoken.
The Ruenzel family plans to dedicate a memorial bench at the park in honor of Mr. Ruenzel in the coming weeks. The media is invited to attend.
Please call public information officer Carolyn Jones at (510) 544-2217 for information about times and dates.
Anyone with information about the case is urged to call the East Bay Regional Park District anonymous tip line at (510) 881-1833.
Note: Our Lady of Lourdes Church welcomes the media and public to join parishioners at the 11 a.m., Nov. 22 service, but asks that visitors be respectful and not disrupt the service. Ushers will direct camera crews and photographers to side areas of the church.
Click on the images below for larger versions.
Subject #1: Black male (possibly mixed race), late 20s or early 30s, dreadlocks or similar hair, medium complexion, high cheek bones, narrow face, thin build, wearing dark clothing and a long black trench coat.