Crime

Berkeley victim’s brother fought suspect after the killing

Police on the scene of the March 29 homicide on Sacramento Street. Photo: A citizen reporter

It has emerged that the brother of 24-year old Devin Lee Whitmire of Berkeley, who was murdered in south Berkeley on March 29, was with the victim on the night of the killing and he fought with the suspect in the case, 19-year-old Randall Oscar Alston, also of Berkeley, after the slaying and immediately preceding Alston’s arrest.

Alston was due to be arraigned today in Alameda County Superior Court.

Court documents show that Whitmire and his brother were on the sidewalk outside Bob’s Liquors and Deli at Sacramento and Oregon streets when they were approached by Alston and a second suspect. Whitmire’s brother knew Alston and acknowledged him. Alston responded by acknowledging Whitmire’s brother. Whitmire’s brother then saw Alston and the second suspect approach Whitmire and saw the second suspect displaying a handgun.

The brother yelled a warning to Whitmire and they both began to flee but the brother then heard “numerous gunshots” and discovered that Whitmire had been hit.

About 30 minutes after the shooting, Whitmire’s brother spotted Alston and “physically assaulted him”. Berkeley police who were nearby and spotted the assault then detained the brother and Alston, according to the the records.

The brother identified Alston and said he was one of the people responsible for shooting Whitmire. Whitmire was was pronounced dead at Highland Hospital in Oakland.

Whitmire’s death is the third homicide in Berkeley so far this year.

Related:
Reward offered to help find suspects in Berkeley homicide [04.03.12]
Police identify victim and suspect in Thursday slaying [04.01.12]
Southside residents contend with spate of shootings [03.30.12]
Sacramento Street shooting victim dies, arrest made [03.30.12]
Shooting on Sacramento and Oregon, victim wounded [03.29.12]

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  • John Holland

    So is there still an open question as to who pulled the trigger?

  • Guest

    Of course there is, and there will be right up until someone pleads guilty or is convicted by a  jury. 

  • John Holland

    Let me rephrase my question:

    Early reports would have suggested that Randall was the one with the gun, although that has never been explicitly stated.

    Is Randall the suspected shooter, or is that question still open? Was it a different suspected shooter? Is there more than one suspected shooter?

  • TizziLish

    Actually, I think Guest has it right this time. If they do arrest and prosecute the second suspect, both the suspects’ lawyers will jockey about who will plead to shooting, although both will be eligible to be found guilty of felony murder.  It is possible we won’t know who was the shooter until pleas are entered. If I were their attorneys, I would not be talking to the press. It might go like cop tv shows:  playing them off one another.

    We’ll see.

  • John Holland

    I wasn’t really asking how they would plea, but how they were accused/suspected. It’s not uncommon for a suspect to be described as using a gun, but no one has attributed suspected agency to Mr. Alston.

    I was also curious because it raises the good question that 3rdGenBerkeleyan raised the other day: does this mean that the actual shooter may be on the loose, and only the accomplice is in jail?

  • Petsitter101

    Yes, I would assume by the reports that the actual shooter may very well be out and about.  Scary,huh?

  • Guest

    Not really any more scary than usual – how many unapprehended shooters do you think are on the loose in the East Bay on any given day? The name is legion.

  • RogerMr

    John:

    Good questions.  Why don’t you open a poll so we can speculate about the identity of the missing shooter(s).

  • Petsitter101

    Yes, I agree it’s all scary

  • bgal4

    apparently not everyone thinks it is threatening to have young men running wild shooting each other like kids playing tag…..

    http://www.dailycal.org/2012/04/04/city-residents-alarmed-by-rise-in-number-of-homicides-shootings/

    “Regardless, there is a feeling among many residents that the shootings are inevitable in the neighborhood and have been for a long time.
    “It’s part of living in Berkeley and Oakland,” said Eric Gagnebin, who volunteers at a community garden across from Bob’s Liquors. “It’s just part of the stuff we have to deal with.”

  • Ed S.

    That looked like a quote from The Onion parodying Berkeley. Unfortunately, it was a real quote.

  • Heather_W_62

    What a dumb thing for him to say. It’s inevitable, therefore we must just muddle through somehow?  WTF? For heaven’s sake, people wake up and start trying to do something. Get organized. Take your neighborhood back from violence. Take a lesson from bgal4. 

  • Mike Farrell

    Then mayor Loni Hancock said much the same thing after the Henry’s killings when she opined that these things just happen inthe big city.

  • Daniel Miller

     I know Randall, he is a sweet, talented young man, and I find it extremely
    unlikely that was intentionally involved in this killing. I found this
    article very heartening, because if it is correct, he is clearly not the
    shooter. Let us please be careful in our assumptions: the fact that he
    was present does not necessarily make him an accomplice. I talked with
    him just a week ago about his plans for the future, and besides
    believing that it is not in his nature to do something like this, he is
    way too smart to think he could get away with it on a corner where
    everybody knows him. But I am also very cynical that his case will be tried fairly, as the community pressure on the police to show results will weigh heavily against him.

  • Guest

    What a bizarre comment. You say “…the fact that he was present…”. If that is a fact, and he was with the shooter and did not stick around to help the victim and identify the shooter, then he is in big trouble and he should be. Your willingness to excuse his participation in a murder, just because you like him, shows extremely poor judgment and a callous disregard for the safety of our community.

  • Daniel Miller

     It’s clear from your comment that you have never lived on the streets. A young black man like Randall who is forced to do so by circumstance, does not expect justice either from the police or his “friends”. By just being alongside someone who does something this stupid, he faces either incarceration or being the next victim if he identifies the shooter. The first instinct for young men like him in these situations is to run–which also jeopardizes them. Since he was arrested 30 minutes after, we don’t know what he would have done given some time.

    Again, we need to be careful. Your use of the word “participation” implies that he knew what was about to happen. We don’t know that.

    I wasn’t there, although I was just an hour before. I don’t know exactly what happened, but I have hope for Randall and his innocence. I fully expect to be trolled for my comments, but someone needs to speak for Randall. He is a member of this community as much as anyone, and his safety has constantly been at risk for at least the eight years that I have known him.

  • Bruce Love

    You wrote:

    I fully expect to be trolled for my comments, but someone needs to speak for Randall.

    My thought is that you wrote really well, concisely expressing a complex and too-often overlooked idea, when you wrote:

    A young black man like Randall who is forced to do so by circumstance, does not expect justice either from the police or his “friends”. By just being alongside someone who does something this stupid, he faces either incarceration or being the next victim if he identifies the shooter. The first instinct for young men like him in these situations is to run–which also jeopardizes them.

  • Guest

    Randall’s lawyer can speak for him, and a jury can decide if he committed a crime.  You aren’t doing him any favors by trying to rationalize his behavior – because to a reasonable person it sounds as if you are describing somebody who, yes, participated in a murder. Nor will it do any good to invoke your experience, or some sort of street ethic – there is only one set of laws and it applies to everyone.

  • bgal4

    Trolled, how about just challenged.

    Daniel runs the garden on the corner, and has told me in a face to face argument the real thugs are the cops.

  • realitycheck

     Randy Alston has family on Bonar St. His mother hangs out with one of the most problematic woman along Sacramento St.

  • Guest

    Well, there are at least some of us who don’t make the same, tired, old excuses for street thugs and who ALSO think the cops are increasingly turning into thugs who act like a street gang.

    It’s not necessarily and either/or issue.

  • Guestest

    Just to point out that this latest Guest is not the same as the one who posted the other comments above. I, the original Guest, think that it is absurd to say that “…the cops are increasingly turning into thugs who act like a street gang”. In regard to the incident in question: the cops didn’t shoot anyone. Looking at the broader issue: the very great bulk of the shooting going on in our area is being done by people who have no legitimate reason to be shooting, and have not been given (by the public to anyone else) the task of maintaining order and public safety. 

  • Guestest

    Oops: (by the public OR anyone else)

  • Daniel Miller

    You are poorly paraphrasing me out of context in order to disparage me rather than actually challenging the discussion at hand. It’s interesting how many people here are unwilling to use their real name.

  • Bruce Love
  • Guest

    No, I am responding directly to the substance of what you said. You wish to excuse Randall’s behavior, but you have no standing to do so: his fate will be decided by responsible people who have been given the task by our society. 

  • Daniel Miller

     Sigh. Old news. Just let it be known that it is replete with misrepresentations as well.

  • Daniel Miller

     Actually you’re still engaging in ad hominem http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ad_hominem The substance is not about me, but rather the logical thread which this article establishes that if a) Randall was not the shooter then b) his guilt hinges on whether he had foreknowledge of the shooters intentions and c) we readers can’t possibly know that yet. I’m not excusing him because I don’t know what he did. But it seems like the jury is already out on this forum.

  • Guest

    Let a real jury deal with his guilt or innocence, after seeing the evidence and hearing his defense – I certainly don’t know what happened or what Randall knew. As for your hurt feelings, let everyone read your original post, and the subsequent exchange, and draw their own conclusions.

  • Daniel Miller

    I certainly don’t know what happened
    or what Randall knew.

    Thank you. That’s all I was getting at in response to the prejudging happening here (I never said anything about hurt feelings).

    The feeling I have is one we all share: horror at what happened. But that emotion does not free us from the responsibility to be very circumspect in our response as more lives are at stake.

  • Daniel Miller

     (that first sentence was written in italics as a quote)

  • Guest

    We agree on this. I am all for justice, but mercy too…every kid who gets sucked into this stuff is a victim. 

  • bgal4

     Daniel, do you always promote such low expectations for young folks?

  • John Holland

    “Petsitter101″ wrote:

     I would assume by the reports that the actual shooter may very well be out and about.

    It seems that way:
    I know this thread is a week old, but this was in an article Berkeleyside linked to yesterday:

    According to the documents, Whitmire’s brother noticed that the second suspect was displaying a black handgun.

    This is all I’ve been asking for: clarification on who the shooter is suspected to be. This is the first time I’ve seen it stated anywhere that someone other than Mr. Alston had the gun.

  • Ms-robinson

    im witmire sister and my brother did not deserve what Randell and his friend did to him… my brother and i arent even from out here!! Randell pointed my brother out mistaken him for someone else!! and yes the other shooter is still out and thats only because randell want tell who the actual shooter was! so he is being charged with having somthing to do with his murder!! and i hope i get what he deserve

  • Ms-robinson

    cant nobody speak for Randell unless you know why and how can someone misidentify someone and get them killed! I came from oakland to, when i was raised we learned how to fight not pull a trigger Im witmire sister and im speaking for my brother MURDER is no JUSTICE!! Randell knew what he was doing when they did what they did.. thats why he gone do his time

  • bgal4

    Daniel writes “extremely unlikely that he was intentionally involved in this killing”

    and we are hearing from the deceased family how inaccurate your sentiment is.

    just as when you told me the guys who robbed my son, sold drugs and guns out of public housing were good guys, you described them as misunderstood black males.

    right….

    your judgement is so flawed it is problematic.

  • Heather_W_62

    Ms. Robinson, let me offer you my deepest condolences for the loss of your brother. I’d also like to thank you for you comment during a very difficult time. I remember the days when people used to just fight, the world is very sadly a different place, and until people wake up to the culture of violence that many of our young people get caught up in, there is little hope. There are no excuses. 

  • Heather_W_62

    I’d say the judgment (or opinion, more like) is more than problematic. It appears to be systemic, rather like a really nasty disease. 

  • Emily Zukerberg

    I am a resident of Oregon St
    and live less than one block from where the shooting happened. The death of the
    young man who was killed was a tragedy that cannot be corrected , and my
    deepest sympathies go out to the family and friends for their loss. But I am
    appalled at the number of people who are posting as “Guest” –which is akin to
    donning an anonymous white hood– and conducting a virtual lynching of the
    young man who is currently in custody without affording him even the benefit of
    our very unjust justice system. Last time I checked, our legal system was
    supposed to presume him “innocent until proven guilty” but maybe things have
    changed since I graduated from law school in 1998.

     

    As for those of you who are turning your racial animus
    toward Daniel Miller for pointing out that none of us know the facts and for
    bothering to speak for the boy’s character, to me you are the scariest thing in
    my neighborhood. Daniel is one of the few people in this neighborhood who is
    working on a daily basis to try to do something positive. Just a few weeks ago
    there were more than a dozen young black men at the garden conducting a musical
    celebration and promotion for healthy living and eating. How many of you
    anonymous Guests bothered to attend or comment on that event? And funny that
    you should attack Daniel but the liquor store is ignored.

     

    I urge everyone reading this conversation to refrain from
    encouraging the loss of another young life. If we put half the resources we put
    into police and prisons into education and jobs we would have the kind of
    community Daniel is working to create.

     

    I also urge all of you to read Michelle Alexander’s book
    “The New Jim Crow: Mass incarceration in the age of color blindness.” It is a
    chilling documentation of the policies and practices that have more African
    American men in prison and under control of the criminal justice system today
    than there were black people enslaved in 1850. We can continue with business as
    usual and direct all our resources to “law and order” or we can work together
    to educate ourselves and our young people and address the real causes of the
    violence and despair we are witnessing.   

     
     

  • Emily Zukerberg

     

    I am a resident of Oregon St
    and live less than one block from where the shooting happened. The death of the
    young man who was killed was a tragedy that cannot be corrected , and my
    deepest sympathies go out to the family and friends for their loss. But I am
    appalled at the number of people who are posting as “Guest” –which is akin to
    donning an anonymous white hood– and conducting a virtual lynching of the
    young man who is currently in custody without affording him even the benefit of
    our very unjust justice system. Last time I checked, our legal system was
    supposed to presume him “innocent until proven guilty” but maybe things have
    changed since I graduated from law school in 1998.

     

    As for those of you who are turning your racial animus
    toward Daniel Miller for pointing out that none of us know the facts and for
    bothering to speak for the boy’s character, to me you are the scariest thing in
    my neighborhood. Daniel is one of the few people in this neighborhood who is
    working on a daily basis to try to do something positive. Just a few weeks ago
    there were more than a dozen young black men at the garden conducting a musical
    celebration and promotion for healthy living and eating. How many of you
    anonymous Guests bothered to attend or comment on that event? And funny that
    you should attack Daniel but the liquor store is ignored.

     

    I urge everyone reading this conversation to refrain from
    encouraging the loss of another young life. If we put half the resources we put
    into police and prisons into education and jobs we would have the kind of
    community Daniel is working to create.

     

    I also urge all of you to read Michelle Alexander’s book
    “The New Jim Crow: Mass incarceration in the age of color blindness.” It is a
    chilling documentation of the policies and practices that have more African
    American men in prison and under control of the criminal justice system today
    than there were black people enslaved in 1850. We can continue with business as
    usual and direct all our resources to “law and order” or we can work together
    to educate ourselves and our young people and address the real causes of the
    violence and despair we are witnessing.   

     

  • Bruce Love

     Emily, I’m a neighbor of yours on Dohr St. (Tom Lord).   Thank you very much.