But around 10:30 a.m. on Tuesday, the painting stopped. A man was shot and killed under the Interstate 580 overpass, the future home of the mural, police told the Oakland Tribune. That man was identified by the mural project as Ramos.
“In the midst of beautifying the community with youth messages of hope and love, this horrific tragedy happens,” the Oakland Super Heroes Mural Project posted on Facebook. “Help us take a stand against violence in Oakland.”
According to police, Ramos and another man reportedly had an argument that escalated, the Tribune reported. The man shot Ramos and ran off, police said.
Officers, hearing reports of shots fired, found Ramos with multiple gunshot wounds, Oakland Police spokeswoman Johnna Watson told the San Francisco Chronicle. Ramos was pronounced dead at the hospital, the newspaper reported.
Ramos was working on the third mural from the Oakland Super Heroes Mural Project, a beautification initiative run by the nonprofit Attitudinal Healing Connection, which uses the arts and education to break cycles of violence.
“All they were doing was painting, trying to beautify a neighborhood that has seen its challenges,” Oakland Police Lt. Roland Holmgren told the Tribune.
The broad-day light shooting has left the community reeling. People gathered Wednesday morning by the mural for a vigil. A fundraising Web site has been set up to help Ramos’s family with funeral costs.
Artists will pick up their tools next week to finish work on the mural, Burke said. As a tribute, they will paint the boy with the healing power of music to resemble Ramos, the eager and sincere muralist who loved art and music so much.
Ramos’s death is the 71st homicide in Oakland this year, the Tribune reported.
Burke said the outpouring of support has “been incredible.” He added: “You read headlines about something like this, and it’s easy to dismiss a place based on one incident. Oakland is a special place, and the community is mourning over Antonio’s death.”
The superhero murals are designed by professional artists, using concepts developed by local middle and high schoolers. The students accompany muralists in painting the designs.
“These aren’t superheroes with capes that we’re used to. These are heroes within the community, that promote nonviolence and promote peace and environmental awareness,” Burke said.
The public art projects are also intended to brighten otherwise blighted areas. AHC is still raising funds for this particular mural.
“If you look underneath this freeway, you know, you see often a lot of pain,” Jumoke Hinton Hodge of Oakland Unified School District told ABC affiliate KGO-TV. “You see people who are homeless. Oftentimes you see a lot of dirt, you see grime. So yeah, he was beautifying this small space inside of West Oakland.”
Ramos first began painting with the Oakland Superheroes Mural Project in 2012 on a mural on San Pablo Avenue.
“We were out there, painting, and he just walked up and was really excited about what we were doing. He wanted to help and participate,” Burke said. “He started showing up and volunteering his time.”
He eventually came on as a paid artist for the third mural, going up on West Street and designed in part by West Oakland Middle School students.
“He had such a generous spirit. And this is his home, his neighborhood, and he just loved being out painting and learning, and helping shape his community,” Burke said. “Not only is he a talented artist, he brings a light to everyone around him.”