Police pursuit puts Malcolm X, LeConte on lockdown

Photo: Sandy Friedland

Update, 4:30 p.m.: The Berkeley Police Department now reports it was a neighbor, not the victim of a burglary, who chased suspects and asked people to call 911. Officers recovered some of the victim’s property. The suspects are described as: African American male juvenile, 16 years old, 5’7”-5’8”, 140 pounds wearing a gray shirt and baggy blue jeans; and African American male juvenile, 16 years old, 5’7”-5’8”, 140 pounds wearing a black and white short-sleeved striped shirt and baggy blue jeans.

Update, 2:50 p.m.: According to police, the two burglary suspects have not been apprehended. Police are still investigating but the search perimeters have been lifted.

Update, 2:18 p.m.: LeConte Elementary School went off lockdown at around 2 p.m.

Update, 2 p.m.: Berkeley Police officers are hunting two suspects following an interrupted residential burglary in the 2100 block of Ward Street, according to police spokeswoman Officer Jennifer Coats. It is believed two young male suspects fled the house and were chased by the victim, she said. Police established a perimeter north to south on Ashby and Russell and east to west between Deakin and Fulton. They are going house to house looking for suspects.

Update, 1:55 pm: Malcolm X school has been taken off lockdown. Parent Katy Hayden said she received a call that the lockdown is lifted at the elementary school, and parents can pick up kids as usual.

Update, 1:45 pm: LeConte Elementary School, which is at 2241 Russell St., is also on lockdown, according to Berkeley Unified School District spokesman Mark Coplan, who said two suspects ran straight through the school playground.

At 1:45 p.m., Coplan said parents should not go to the schools to try to pick up their children. He estimates it will be at least an hour before the situation is resolved.

Original story, 1:20 p.m.: The pursuit by Berkeley Police officers of a possible crime suspect put Malcolm X Elementary School and the Berkeley Pine Care Center on lockdown at around 1 p.m. today.

Nathalie Montijo, director of nursing at Berkeley Pines Care Center at 2223 Ashby Ave., on the corner of Deakin, said that about an hour ago a staff member said something was going on outside. She went outside and a police officer told her the facility needed to lock down.

Four or five members of a SWAT team came through the facility with weapons drawn, according to Montijo. She said the police told her they were looking for two young black males. “It looked pretty serious. It was pretty intense,” she said.

According to Sandy Friedland, who spoke to a police officer, a suspect was in a house on Fulton.

“They are not allowing pedestrians to walk on the north side of Ashby or onto Fulton,” she said.

Photo: Emilie Raguso

At 1:35 p.m., the north side of Ashby and Deakin Street between Ashby and Russell was blocked to pedestrians.

The Malcolm X parent community received a robo-call Wednesday at 1:16 p.m. alerting them to the fact that the school was on lockdown but that the students were safe.

Nicole Fitzhugh, a parent at Malcolm X, was at the school at about 1:45 p.m. to pick up her child according to her normal schedule. “I trust the staff to do their job. They are familiar with the procedures and they are trying to do their best to keep our kids safe,” she said.

Additional reporting by Emilie Raguso.

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  • LeConte parent

    LeConte is also on lockdown.

  • Isn’t Le Conte Elementary the closest school to the police action? (SJ Mercury News says burglary was at 2100 block of Ward)

  • ilovesouthberkeley

    Thanks for being there and reporting on this. Would be great to know whether or not pick up is happening/advised, or if they just want everyone to stay out of the area.

  • LeConte parent

    I’m still waiting for the update from LeConte. Will post when I hear anything. We are assured the children are safe.

  • ilovesouthberkeley

     Thanks, the Malcolm X call said all the children are safe, I’m just confused about whether or not pick up is happening or on hold

  • ilovesouthberkeley

     Another Malcolm X robocall, pick up is happening now at Malcolm X

  • Christa Scharfenberg

    I am a Malcolm X parent and just got a call that the kids are now being dismissed.

  • ilovesouthberkeley


  • Completely_Serious

    So long as the kids are safe, better than a fire drill!

    But let me ask this:  Isn’t this a pretty extreme response to a residential burglary?  Not that it isn’t serious, but during a recent break in Elmwood, it took the cops 10-15 minutes to respond and the bad guys escaped.  Does it get heightened attention when there’s a chance to catch ’em?

    Oh, and let’s be sure to find out if they were Oakland residents running across a Berkeley school yard.  Berkeley Accountable Schools? Are you there?

  • Completely-nutso

    What? really? Hyper-local xenophobia much?
    What if they were from a different neighborhood or block, even?

  • I think Completely_Serious was joking about Oakland residents.

  • Completely-nutso?

    very much hoping you are correct
    hard to tell, what withe the nick and all…

  • I assumed the same.

  • Anonymous

    I know you’re joking but when I had to call a bunch of numbers in our school’s phone tree many of them were just used for enrollment purposes and didn’t actually belong to the parents. In situations like this it’s probably not funny.

  • TizziLish

    It seems very polite-state to lock down a school to pursuit  residential burglary suspects.What?! Did the cops want freedom to shoot guns recklessly without working about mowing down kids? And what about other passersby walking along living their life?  Did they lock them down too?

    Creepy. Is this our gestapo Police Chief in action?

  • The Sharkey

    Is this comment supposed to be sarcastic, or are you actually insane?

  • 3rdGenBerkeleyan

    if there was more serious consequences for these punk kids doing these robberies maybe it would be somewhat of a deterrent to not commit these crimes, they know they will get out of juvie in a few days and will be commiting the same crimes just days later…maybe if the berkeley cops got into a shootout the word on the street would be stay away from Berkeley those cops mean business but no the city of berekeley will throw these thugs a party and tell them how we feel sorry for them because they have been suppressed their whole lives

  • TN

    Knowing your neighbors paid off in this instance. Working to get to know your neighbors and keeping at least a polite familiarity is very important to our own safety. While I’m not sure that I would have chased the burglars like this neighbor who went way beyond the call of duty, I know that my neighbors would at least call the police if my house was broken into and I would do the same for them.

    I find it disappointing that some of our neighbors don’t even try to get to know the others. Their attitude is that their home is their castle and that they can’t be bothered to know others who live alongside them.

  • Sarah

    Are you serious?   
    Totally ridiculous, overblown commentary. 
    I for one am thankful that the principal and staff at these elementary schools decided to implement lock down procedures “JUST IN CASE.” If anything were to happen to an innocent child because of a potentially armed robbery suspect… so awful to even think. Lock down procedures are simply that. No entry, no exit, stay away from the windows. It is there to protect our most vulnerable. 

  • Probably the worst comment I’ve read on Berkeleyside this year.

  • Guestadora

    It sounds like standard procedure.  When I lived near the Berkeley-Oakland border, the police would occasionally have to clear a given area of pedestrians.  That was annoying and inconvenient the couple times it happened on my block, but preferable to being hit by a stray bullet.  And yes, shots were fired in one of those instances — but by the suspect, not the cops. 

  • guest

    Schools in Berkeley can be “put on lockdown” now?  People can use the term “lockdown” re: schools without irony?

    This town has changed.

  • Any school in America can be locked down.  If an armed citizen is running thru the neighborhood near a school, that’s what you do.  To, y’know, protect kids and stuff.

  • Sarah

    Why would you use a phone number as a fraud enrollment?? I thought the address was what matters? 

  • Completely_Serious

     Yes, I was joking.  If you know me, you know my comments are not always Completely_Serious. 

  • Completely_Serious

    I was told by a LeConte student that the bad guys jumped one fence, ran across the yard and the jumped the other fence out.  The student also told me there were shots heard.  I asked how this student knew that, the student responded, “The fifth graders heard them.”  Please pass the grains of salt.

    But if there were shots at anytime, a lockdown and the extreme response were certainly warranted, and I withdraw my previous inquiry.

  • Guest

     I think the comment was anti-polite, not anti-police. It said very “polite-state.” Not even sure what that is. All I know is that the t and the c are pretty far apart on my keyboard! Autocorrect?

  • ilovesouthberkeley

    I wonder why Willard middle school, around the corner from LeConte elementary, was not also locked down? Did the police accidently lock down Malcolm X, which seems to be no where near anything that happened, instead of Willard?

  • Anonymous

     I figured it was from people using somebody else phone bill for proof of residency but just a guess. I do know that many of the people I spoke with either had no idea who I was asking for or, after me asking “Are you John Smith doesn’t live here?”, replied with “Oh yeah, that’s right….er, John Smith isn’t here right now.”

  • The Sharkey


    Tizzi’s comments about Chief Meehan and the BPD almost always fall into the anti-Polite category.

  • BiGmAmA

    TizziLish you are right your comment is the worst anyone has read on Berkeleyside

  • Guestadora

    What it boils down to is that everyone has to stay put inside their classroom for a while, possibly even during recess. You could call it lockdown, or you could just think of it as the whole school having to do detention, for something someone else did.

  • Guest

     You have to supply multiple forms of proof of local residency, and your address on a phone bill (not cell phone) is one form that’s allowed. Still, the previous owners of our house let their home health care assistant (who was not a Berkeley resident) use their home as “hers” to enroll her child in BUSD. We got mail for her child for a couple of years. Her kid is going to the school a block away from our house, while ours got assigned to a school far, far away.

  • Guest

     Since the suspects ran through the school playground, doesn’t that seem justified?

  • Guest

    Its not a joke..I am sure there are many people using friends or relatives phonenumbers & addresses in Berkeley. I live outside the school district but work in Berkeley & I got an interdistrict transfer for both of my kids they have to keep up good grades attendence & good behavior…

  • KOYB

    Yeah, I wonder why Willard wasn’t on lockdown & it was half day.. My child that goes to Willard actually walked down to LeConte everyday. & I am glad LeConte Teachers & Staff my child & friends that have siblings there as well in to be with their younger siblings, & they didn’t allow them to leave the school as well..I think Leconte Staff did a wonderful job keeping our kids safe. I heard that they had a gun & knife I am not sure on article says there was no one on the yard at the time. But heard it was during lunch recess & a yard supervisor approached them. I don’t know what to believe.. But no one was hurt just got to be glad for that…But they should have locked down Willard for safety of the middle school students its really closer to LeConte than Malcolm X…

  • neighbor

    I was the guy who chased these guys from my neighbors house!! I will never forget her scream… I was five steps behind these guys!! I wish i got them…

  • emraguso

    Glad you’re safe! Who screamed?

  • bgal4


  • Akkiser

    My son (3rd grader) was at recess when the burglars climbed the fence and went walking – then suddenly running – through the playground. At first, he thought the guy was an older brother of one of his friends. Then he realized it wasn’t and got confused. 

    I’m glad LeConte did what they did (lockdown till deemed safe). I wasn’t there to witness it, but in my son’s retelling, I could glean that he wasn’t scared or traumatized by it. 

    I’m not sure why Malcolm X was on lockdown. This activity just didn’t seem that close to that school.

  • Akkiser

    You have got to be kidding me with this. My son was at recess at LeConte when the suspects jumped the fence and ran across a playground full of children. Hustling the children inside and locking the school doors seems like a very sane response.