When the assassins came to his home, the Oakland political operative fought back, then told police he had been targeted as part of a criminal investigation.

When the assassins came to his home, the Oakland political operative fought back, then told police he had been targeted as part of a criminal investigation.

Mario Juarez is pictured in a video produced by the Vietnamese American Business Association, which highlights the work of Evolutionary Homes. Juarez is identified as one of the founders of the home building company. (YouTube)

OAKLAND — Everything was there to make a targeted hit.

At least three suspects in cars with obstructed or stolen license plates searched the East Oakland home of two-time City Council candidate Mario Juarez, pulled up behind his parked Chevrolet Suburban, vandalized the vehicle and then opened fire on Juarez when he got out to investigate, authorities said.

A would-be assassin shot the prominent local political activist and businessman about nine times, who dropped to the ground and fired four shots from his own .40-caliber Glock pistol as bullets whizzed past and hit his home. The suspects fled, and Juarez called 911, then told police he believed the assassination attempt on him was “retaliation” for his involvement in a criminal investigation. He declined to provide details, according to authorities and a police report.

Since the June 9 shooting, Juarez has become a central figure in an ongoing criminal investigation that led to a series of FBI raids on June 20. Federal investigators searched a home owned by Mayor Sheng Thao and his partner, Andre Jones, as well as the homes of Oakland businessman David Duong and his son, Andy Duong.

A federal grand jury convened to weigh possible criminal charges and ordered the city of Oakland to preserve all documents related to the recycling company and the Duongs, who are well-known for their political connections and ownership of the recycling company California Waste Solutions. City officials were also ordered to preserve and turn over communications related to Jones and calendar entries for Jones and Thao.

Juarez is a longtime business leader who has been active in local politics for decades. His many businesses include debt collection, entertainment, real estate, clean energy and, most recently, a company called Evolutionary Homes LLC, which sells shipping containers and was founded by Juarez and the Duongs. The home-building company is also named in a federal grand jury subpoena sent June 25 to the city of Oakland, which lists Juarez and other officials or employees.

Juarez also faces active criminal charges since January, when Alameda County prosecutors accused him of writing bad checks totaling $53,600 on 120,000 pieces of mail targeting Thao’s chief rival, Loren Taylor, and others during the 2022 mayoral campaign.

By the time gunmen showed up at Juarez’s home on June 9, Oakland police were already investigating an apparent dispute between him and the Duongs that reportedly resulted in violence and death threats.

Andy Duong told police that Juarez threatened him and his family on May 3, claiming to have ties to a “cartel” that supported him. Juarez later claimed he was the victim of a violent attack orchestrated by the Duongs and escaped with serious injuries, the San Francisco Chronicle reported Tuesday.

One detail is indisputable: The incident occurred at the Embarcadero waterfront offices in Oakland for California Waste Solutions and Evolutionary Homes, the same suite that was raided by the FBI on June 20.

As for the assassination attempt on Juarez, authorities say he and his son had returned home from Tracy on the night of June 9, shortly before the shooting. Juarez later told police he heard a noise, grabbed his gun and went outside to investigate.

When he opened his door, he said, he saw a man who appeared to be sitting in the front seat of Juarez’s Chevrolet. But his attention was quickly drawn to a second man who got out of a car double-parked behind the Chevrolet, raised a gun and fired about nine times at Juarez, who returned fire. No one was hit by the gunfire, and the suspects drove away before police arrived, authorities said.

Juarez told police he believed the attack was in response to his participation in an “investigation,” but did not provide further details, police said. As police secured the crime scene, neighbors reported that there had actually been two or three shootings in a span of 20 minutes that night, something authorities said was confirmed by the city’s gunshot detection system and area surveillance video.

According to the police investigation, two vehicles, both with partially obstructed, stolen or illegitimate license plates, were seen driving back and forth around Juarez’s home near Fruitvale Avenue and Foothill Boulevard shortly before 10 p.m. Around 9:50 p.m., someone threw a brick through a window of the Suburban and a man opened fire on the vehicle. The suspects returned about 15 minutes later and this time a man of a different description shot Juarez, sparking the shootout.

Juarez’s attorney, who has previously called the fraud charges against him “politically motivated,” declined to comment for this article. Oakland police have not announced any arrests in their ongoing attempted murder investigation stemming from the June 9 shooting.