Artist Shot Dead While Working On Oakland Anti-Violence Mural

The mural was supposed to inspire big dreams in the troubled neighborhood.

SAN FRANCISCO -- An artist was shot to death Tuesday while working on a public mural in Oakland, California, sponsored by a group trying to reduce violence in the troubled and changing neighborhood. 

An argument broke out between the artist and shooter beneath a highway overpass around 10:30 a.m. as the artist worked on a painting called "Self as Superhero," authorities said. The work had been designed as a collaboration between West Oakland middle school students and area muralists. Students were scheduled to work with artists at the site on Wednesday.

The gunman fled after the shooting and remained at large. The victim's name wasn't released, but police described him in a statement as an adult man. Police didn't release a description of the shooter. 

"All they were doing was painting, trying to beautify a neighborhood that has seen its challenges," Oakland police Lt. Roland Holmgren told the Oakland Tribune.  

The shooting took place in West Oakland, beneath Interstate 580 on West Street. Violent crime in the area historically has been above average. Recently, the neighborhood has experienced rapid changes from gentrification. 

Oakland has had 71 homicides in 2015, compared with 56 at this point in in 2014. 

Plans called for a 4,000-square foot mural. Portions that are in progress show children on an a tree-lined street of homes. according to the Oakland Tribune. It's supposed to be the third in a series of six murals by the Attitudinal Healing Connection.

"The murals serve as a constant reminder of the importance of dreaming big," says a description on a fundraising site. "Its long-term impact on our youth and community is something Oakland can celebrate."

 The online fundraising campaign underway before the shooting sought to raise $10,000 for supplies and some compensation for the artists working with the middle schoolers.