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.”
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.”
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.
“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.