Barrage of bullets killed man in Berkeley

Police tagged more than 80 bullet holes at the scene of the fatal shooting on Emerson Street last night. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel

Kenny Warren had just left his job at the barbershop at 3019 Shattuck Ave. on Thursday evening and was walking around the corner to a friend’s house to watch a basketball game when he was pelted with a barrage of gunfire.

His assailants were lying in wait for the barber, port worker, and father of five, and fired off more than 80 rounds from a semi-automatic weapon and a pistol to make sure the 35-year-old was dead. After Warren collapsed on the porch of the duplex at 2114 Emerson St., the suspects walked up the stairs and fired some more rounds point blank into his body, according to witnesses.

“I heard him knock on the door and say ‘It’s Ken,’ said an occupant of the apartment where Warren was killed. She asked that her name not be used. “I went to answer the door, then hesitated. Then the bullets started flying and I heard him scream. There were so many bullets. They kept coming so fast. There were so many.”

Kenneth Warren, 32 and a father of five, is believed to have been targeted

Friends and family of Warren were incredulous on Friday that anyone had targeted a man they called “hard-working,” “caring,” “loving,” and “positive.” As they gathered at his uncle’s barbershop and out on the street near where a shrine had been set up, they said they had no explanation for the vicious attack. Warren was not involved in drugs or gangs, they said.

“He was a great kid,” said his uncle, Don Warren, who has operated Don’s Headquarters for 41 years. “He was hardworking. He had two jobs. He tried to do the right thing.” Warren had cut hair at the barbershop for seven years.

Berkeley police have not released many details about the shooting, which happened at 6:50 p.m. on Jan. 26 at 2114 Emerson St. They do not believe the shooting was random.

“It looks like Mr. Warren was targeted and it was not a random shooting,” said Lt. Dave Frankel of the BPD. “Multiple rounds were fired and he was shot multiple times.”

A TV crew interviews people outside the apartment where Kenneth Warren was slain. Photo: Tracey Taylor

Witnesses to the shooting said they saw the assailants get in a dark sedan, possibly a Honda, and drive east on Emerson without their headlights turned on, but police would not confirm this.

Warren grew up in Richmond but lived in Hercules, according to his sister, Bridgette Warren, 28. He had seven or eight brothers or sisters and had five children of his own ranging from 8 to 15. He had attended Contra Costa Community College and barber school and worked both as a barber and casual dockworker for the region’s ports.

The apartment where Warren was killed was a mess on Friday, with broken glass on the living room floor and the windows riddled with bullet holes. The bullets pierced the metal safety gate, shattered a front window, went through a wall in a living room, ricocheted through two rooms and even hit the kitchen water faucet, turning it on.


Two bullets pierced an upholstered chair in the living room, the chair where Warren usually sat when he visited, according to the apartment’s occupants. Police tagged more than 80 bullet holes at the scene.

Warren was close friends with the couple in the apartment and would come over frequently to hang out and watch sports. He had come to the apartment earlier on Thursday and said he would return when he got off of work at 7 p.m. to watch the end of the Celtics-Magic game, according to one occupant, who also asked that his name not be used. He knocked on the door shortly before 7 p.m.

“I was walking toward the door when my blinds starting shaking, my windows started breaking,” said the man. “I dove to the floor.”

The couple crawled to a back door and down a staircase and took refuge in their neighbor’s house.

Don Warren, the victim’s uncle

“What will always stay in my head was that he was knocking,” said the man, who was visibly upset Friday about the brutal killing of his friend. He and his girlfriend frequently choked up when recalling the events of the night before.

The neighborhood plans to hold a gathering around 6 p.m. tonight at the intersection of Shattuck and Emerson to commemorate Warren’s life and death.

Police ask anyone who witnessed the murder or has any information about it to call the Homicide department at 510-981-5741.

This was Berkeley’s first homicide of 2012.

Family and friends have set up a shrine to Kenny Warren right near where he was shot Thursday night. Warren was also called

Man shot and killed on Shattuck in Berkeley [01.26.12]

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  • Anonymous

    80 bullets.  It is so terribly unjust that this kind of firepower is so readily available.  

  • Lhasa7

    Right. Let’s give the state a monopoly on deadly force. They didn’t waste bullets at Katyn.

  • Abigail

    Horrible, frightening, and tragic. Speechless. My prayers for the family and the children. May the perpetrators be found.

  • Heather W.

    Frances, thank you for so quickly putting together an article that humanizes this tragic story. I did not know Kenny, but I know several people who did. The comments on the first article deteriorated to a place that left me feeling bewildered, and here’s why: Berkeley is still a “small town” — nearly every time someone is killed in this town, I knew the person myself, know family members, know neighbors, someone went to school with…. when the comments digress to the point where the man’s identity doesn’t matter; just what pot club, which liquor store, the “bad” neighborhood is suspect… well, I’d like to bring it back to this: this is our community. Someone — a father, a lover, a son, a nephew, a cousin, a friend — was murdered. There are a lot of people tonight who are bearing very heavy hearts. RIP Kenny, I hope you know that there were a lot of people who will genuinely miss you.

  • Anonymous

    Ken was my barber during my entire time as a UC Berkeley student (I graduated 2011).  He was so talented with the clippers.  I trusted him enough to cut my hair for my graduation.  He was a very nice guy who loved to talk about sports.  All he wanted was for his customers to be happy with the haircuts he gave them.  Cutting hair was like an art to him.  I’m just very saddened that this happened to him.  He didn’t deserve to be harmed and certainly didn’t deserve to die this way.  My condolences to Don and the rest of Ken’s family.  RIP Ken.

  • My heart goes out to the family of this man.  What a shame that there are such evil people in our community that they would commit this crime. I pray that they are found and prosecuted.

  • Samin

    Rest in Peace, Kenny Warren.  My heart goes out to your family.

  • John Holland

    Heather W. wrote:

    The comments on the first article deteriorated to a place that left me feeling bewildered.

    Those comments left you bewildered? Really? I anticipated them!

  • John Holland

    I also offer my condolences to Kenny Warren’s family. So very sad.

  • John Holland

    And yes, I think this was a really excellent article, and a great model for the best of local online journalism.

  • Deluk

    A man  holding  two jobs and five kids shot to death. I can only hope that these murders  are caught and the book is thrown at them.
    I don’t know why but that area around Ashby Bart has always been bad.

  • John Holland

    Shootings are not uncommon around BART stations.

  • Anonymous

    Put a police station in South Berkeley.



  • Rest in Peace Kenny. No man deserves that, but especially not a good man.

  • BerkeleyTard


  • Quentin Pierce

    I live a couple doors down and I assumed it was out of season fireworks but within a couple of moments depth  of the barrel sound and aggressive pattern was evident gun fire from automatic weapons.I stepped outside towards the commotion where a familiar neighbor asked me what did I make of the noise and I told him that someone squeeze of some rounds he then added he saw a vehicle drive off  with the lights off. At this point no one realized that anyone was shot or the direction of fire we did know it was in the vicinity . I suggested that he call Berkeley PD and give the closest description of the fleeing vehicle.Beyond this it was never imagined being that the family was well liked in the neighborhood and there were never any prior events of any violence so close to home

  • Quentin Pierce

    It is true that petty crime can drift in on public transit but that’s absurd to relate to this situation.This was not a random purse snatching or mugging as well if you look at statistics of homicides similar to this go throughout the community as the shootings at the Bosn’ Locker or near Flints further down Shattuck Ave into Oakland

  • Quentin Pierce

    Or how about North Oakland PD Station

  • Quit being so childish, John.

  • John Holland

    Am I wrong?

  • Nice job getting the comment deleted, John.
    Using the comments on a story like this to continue your petty vendetta is shameful.

  • John Holland

    Wasn’t me, nor did I find it objectionable. In fact, it pleased me.

    My guess it was editors. Personally, I’m not into censoring posts unless they are illegal.

  • If you say so.

    I’m not saying you’re wrong, but the endless petty jabs at Laura are tiresome.

  • John Holland

    I’m actually ripping on statements that conflate gun violence with dispensaries.

  • Keeshawarren

    Thanks to everyone for ur kind words me and my family appreciate how yall are speaking so highly of my big brother. I hope justice comes to my family soon.

    Keesha Warren

  • John Holland

    I would love to contribute to a memorial fund if one is established.

  • Keeshawarren

    Thank u for the willingness to help my family. We really appreciate the concerns

  • Anonymous

    I majored in art and would love to draw a portrait in memory of Ken.  The man gave me so many great haircuts over the past two years.  It’s the least I can do to honor him.  Would it be possible to email me some photos?  My email is

  • lauram

    Police investigating ties between fatal Vallejo shooting and Jan. 26 Berkeley homicide
    By Tony Burchyns, Vallejo Times-Herald
    enforcement is investigating whether a fatal shooting near Vallejo on
    Tuesday night is related to one five days earlier in Berkeley. Although
    no arrests have been made or a motive has been confirmed in either
    shooting death, information on one of the victim’s Facebook pages
    indicates that the two knew each other and may even have been cousins.Authorities
    also would not confirm reports by one family member that Dorian Walls,
    38, of Vallejo, was holding his 1-year-old daughter when he was shot
    multiple times and killed about 7:40 p.m. Tuesday on the 20 block of
    Reis Avenue. However, Solano County Sheriff’s Office officials said a
    baby was at the scene.Berkeley police said they are investigating
    whether Walls’ death is linked to the Jan. 26 shooting death of Kenneth
    Warren, 35, of Hercules. Warren was shot multiple times after leaving
    work at Shattuck Avenue barbershop, Berkeley police said. Berkeley
    police and Bay Area Crime Stoppers are offering a $17,000 reward for
    information leading to the arrest of suspects in Warren’s death.According
    to Walls’ Facebook page, Walls posted a written comment about Warren’s
    death Friday, saying “Man, they killed my cuzin last night.” Walls also
    commented that people were saying the shooting was over a woman.Police,
    however, have not confirmed a motive. Police also declined to comment
    on whether the two victims were related or if their deaths are believed
    to be linked.”We are looking into it and it’s too early to tell,” a Berkeley homicide official said.Solano County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Gary Faulkner added that detectives are following all possible leads.Faulkner also declined to comment on whether Walls shot while holding his baby daughter.Walls’
    sister, Shüran Harvey, who lives in Nevada, said she was told that her
    brother was getting his daughter out of the car when the shooting
    happened.”He protected her,” Harvey said, adding that she was told the baby suffered a “black eye and bruising.”The sheriff’s department would not confirm the report, but did say that an infant was checked out by medics after the shooting.Harvey
    said family and friends are grief stricken over the loss of her
    brother, who grew up in Rodeo and graduated from John Swett High School
    in 1995. She said Walls was a devoted family man who loved working on
    cars and sharing his automotive skills with others.”My brother
    was a good person … I am not just saying that,” Harvey said. “It’s so
    sad the way society is. He always wanted people to have the best … he
    would give anyone a chance.”Contact Tony Burchyns at or (707) 553-6831. MediaNews Group staff writer Doug Oakley contributed to this article.

  • We checked this story this morning with Berkeley Police. We didn’t report it because there doesn’t seem to be a link. Here’s the police response:
    *City of Berkeley Police Department (BPD) Public Information Officer Email Alert – Regarding Vallejo and Berkeley Homicides – No Nexus*

    “There had been “word” going around that a recent homicide in unincorporated City of Vallejo may be related to the January 26, 2012 City of Berkeley homicide of Kenneth Warren in the 3000 block of Shattuck Avenue. The two sets of detectives have conferred and have concluded that there is no connection between the two homicides. The two victims were friends at one time but not the best friends and had not been in contact for many years. The two agencies are investigating the cases separately as there is noidentifiable nexus between them. Whenever there are serious crimes, in particular homicides, there are many rumors, social media chatter and such that develop.”

  • emraguso