OAKLAND — An Oakland police detective revealed the name of a teen accused of killing an Uber driver during an attempted carjacking last year, while testifying against the teen’s co-defendant in a preliminary hearing, court records show.
Oakland police Detective Yun Zhou said that authorities identified Tristen Bengco, 17, as the teen who shot and killed 52-year-old Kon Woo Fung, while attempting to rob Fung on the morning of July 17, 2022, near the intersection of East 22nd Street and 13th Avenue in Oakland. Bengco is being prosecuted as a juvenile, while his adult co-defendant, 20-year-old Major Willis, has been charged with murder and carjacking in adult court.
Willis’ preliminary hearing last month revealed that after the shooting, he and Bengco allegedly travelled to San Francisco and stayed in an abandoned townhouse in an attempt to lay low after the homicide. During the time they were on the lam, the two argued about what went wrong during the incident, a person they were with would later tell police, Zhou testified.
Fung’s killing was publicly decried by then-police Chief LeRonne Armstrong, who took the step of releasing actual footage of Fung being killed in an attempt to identify the suspects. The footage shows two figures, one wearing a yellow hooded sweatshirt, run up to Fung’s Silver sedan and order Fung out of it, at which point a gunshot is heard. The entire incident lasted a few seconds.
Zhou said that another officer who’d been monitoring Bengco and Willis’ Instagram pages identified the yellow hoodie from a video on Bengco’s Instagram and contacted homicide investigators. They also received an anonymous tip implicating Willis, Zhou testified.
Willis gave an interview in which he identified Bengco as the shooter and insisted there were no plans to kill anyone, though he said he knew Bengco was armed. He also told police they were after Fung’s phone, not his car, Zhou testified.
Zhou was the lone witness at the preliminary hearing, which lasted two sessions in late August.
Willis’ public defender, George Arroyo, argued at the hearing’s end that Willis couldn’t be prosecuted for murder in light of SB 1437, a 2019 law change that limits when prosecutors can file murder charges against an accused robber who didn’t personally kill anyone. Under the current statute, a defendant must have either ordered the killing or have acted with reckless indifference to human life for a murder count to stand.
Video shows the two “freaked out” after the gun went off, underscoring their lack of intent to kill, Arroyo argued.
“From what I saw in the video, (Bengco) discharged the gun in an attempt to pull the guy out of the car,” Arroyo said. “It doesn’t make any sense. It’s tragic. It’s just tragic.”
Judge Mark McCannon sided with Deputy District Attorney Raul Jacobson, who argued that Willis’ actions helped escalate it from a robbery to a homicide. McCannon ordered Willis to stand trial on both counts, though a trial date has not yet been set. Willis pleaded not guilty in September.
“He acts with reckless indifference to human life when he knowingly engages in criminal activity that he knows involves a grave risk of death,” McCannon said. “A carjacking with a gun involves a grave risk of death.”