By Bay City News
Family members of two teenage girls who were brutally gunned down near Brookdale Park in East Oakland three weeks ago reacted emotionally today when the two suspects in their deaths appeared in court.
Some of the 14 family members of 15-year-old Raquel Gerstel and 16-year-old Bobbie Sartain wept when , were arraigned in separate brief appearances at the
Wiley Manuel Courthouse in downtown Oakland.
One female family member gave Powell, the suspected shooter in the incident, the finger with both hands, but a bailiff quickly approached her and told her she couldn't do that.
After the hearings, Gerstel's father, Barton Gerstel, said, "I want to thank the witnesses who came forward to solve the case and I want to thank the investigators at the Oakland Police Department who have worked on it."
Powell is charged with two counts of murder, with a special-circumstance allegation of committing multiple murders, which could mean the death penalty if he is convicted.
Powell, dressed in a yellow jail uniform and sporting a short haircut, looked down at a piece of paper containing the charges against him as Alameda County Superior Court Judge Paul Delucchi read them aloud.
According to jail records, Powell is 5-foot-5 and weighs 120 pounds.
Edwards is charged with being an accessory after the fact for allegedly driving Powell away from the scene in the 2600 block of Minna Avenue, near Brookdale Avenue, where Gerstel and Sartain were shot multiple times shortly before 6 a.m. Nov. 25.
The two girls were friends who grew up together in Alameda.
Gerstel lived in San Leandro and was a freshman at Arroyo High School in San
Lorenzo. Sartain lived on High Street in Oakland, a few blocks from where the
According to Jayne Nayman, who lives across the street from the shooting scene and heard the bullets, said police told residents that they found 36 shell casings at the scene.
Oakland police Officer Bradley Baker said in a probable cause statement filed in court that multiple witnesses identified Powell as the person who shot Gerstel and Sartain.
Baker also said multiple witnesses told police that Powell admitted shooting the two girls.
However, Baker didn't disclose a motive for the shooting.
Baker also said many witnesses told authorities that Edwards was involved in the crime and when Edwards was interviewed by police he admitted that he drove Powell away from the scene after the shooting.
Gerstel said his daughter and Sartain grew up together two houses apart in Alameda and remained close friends after they moved away from Alameda.
Gerstel said his daughter "had a great personality, loved cooking and wanted to make me happy."
He said, "I miss her every day."
A male family member who declined to give his name said, "We're outraged by the shooting" and said the violence in Oakland and surrounding communities must be stopped.
Gerstel said his family has set up a website to pay for his daughter's funeral expenses, with any funds that are left over to be used to help other teens.
"It's rough being a teenager," Gerstel said.
The website is www.raquelgerstelfoundation.com.
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