She didn't want to sleep alone. It was July 2006 and almost midnight, closing time at Sacred Tattoo in downtown Oakland, and 26-year old tattooist Devon Blood was working on a back piece for another artist at the shop when his cell phone rang. His girlfriend Tanya [not her real name] wanted him to sleep at her East Oakland apartment. So when the shop closed, Devon rode his bike along the quiet streets to her live/work loft on 20th Avenue. Boxes filled the apartment. It was their last week in San Francisco. On Monday, the couple planned to move to Olympia, Washington, where Devon would tattoo and Tanya would attend college. The going-away party with family and friends was scheduled for Sunday.
They were asleep when a thumping noise woke up Devon. It was almost 1 a.m. As he listened, something crashed against the building's freight elevator doors. Feet shuffled on the concrete loading dock and voices whispered. Then another loud thump vibrated from the heavy wooden doors. Tanya sat up in bed next to him.
"What was that?" she asked.
"Robbers," Devon said. "Somebody is breaking in."
Thieves had recently robbed a nearby building. Rumors around the neighborhood claimed the break-in was aimed at a marijuana operation. This was probably them returning to the area to look for more. Maybe they had the wrong building. Devon and Tanya sat quietly and listened, hoping whoever was outside would pass by or give up. Suddenly, the voices were inside the building, right outside the apartment door. Devon and Tanya dressed quickly and Devon leaned against the bedroom door listening. When he heard voices inside the apartment, he turned to Tanya.
"Get out the window!" Devon yelled.
It was a long jump from the second-floor apartment, but they could drop to the awning over the first floor and climb down. Devon listened against the door as the robbers, nine in all, moved through the apartment. He turned around, expecting to see Tanya climbing out the window. Instead, she stood frozen in panic.
"The windows are barred," she said. "We can't get out!" Footsteps stopped in front of the bedroom. Someone on the other side turned the handle and Devon leaned his shoulder against the door, pressing with his weight. "Oh shit!" a voice on the other side yelled. "There's people here."