Sacramento Street neighbors reel from latest shooting

Yellow police tape marks the spot where a woman was shot and killed while riding her bicycle on Tuesday night. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel

Update, 6:44 p.m.: The Berkeley Police Department has confirmed the identity of shooting victim Pamela Mullins, 50, of Berkeley. Mullins was killed in the 2700 block of Sacramento Street. According to a written statement released at 6:28 p.m.: “BPD detectives are continuing to work hard to gather information and determine a motive for this incident.”

Update, 5 p.m.: The Oakland Tribune is reporting that the shooting victim was 50-year-old Pam Mullins and that she died about 100 feet from her home. Cathy White of Oakland, who told the Tribune she was Mullins’ sister, said Mullins often rode her bike to and from her job as a caregiver, that she lived alone and had recently moved into the apartment.

Original story: The only signs Wednesday morning that a woman was gunned down Tuesday night as she rode her bicycle near Longfellow Middle School was a piece of yellow caution tape flapping in the wind, and three television news vans.

Otherwise it seemed like an average, if rainy, morning. Trucks delivered food to the school cafeteria, parents dropped off students, and stragglers rushed through the rain to make their early classes.

A woman who lives near the corner of Derby and Sacramento streets said she had heard what sounded like a shot Tuesday night but did not know a murder had occurred until she bundled her young son off to school in the morning.

“We heard the gunshot,” said the woman, who only wanted to be identified by her first name, Amanda. “It was really close. It was just one. We didn’t hear any sirens.”

Berkeley police received a 911 call at 11:36 p.m. on Dec. 4 reporting that a female bicyclist was on the ground. The caller speculated she might have been involved in a traffic accident.

Police arrived to discover a woman dead from a gunshot wound, according to Officer Jennifer Coats, police spokeswoman. The victim’s identity has not yet been released, although she is believed to have been in her late 40s or early 50s, said Coats. The woman was bleeding from her head, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

The initial press release reported that the woman had been shot in the 1500 block of Derby Street, but Amanda and others said her body was discovered on the sidewalk on the east side of the 2700 block of Sacramento Street, between Derby and Ward, by a chain link fence surrounding a Longfellow play yard. On Wednesday morning, the only sign of the shooting was the short piece of yellow police tape.

The stretch of Sacramento Street where neighbors said a woman was shot on Tuesday night. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel

The principal at Longfellow was not planning to make a special announcement about the slaying since it happened late at night and most of the students probably were not aware of it, according to Mark Coplan, a spokesman for the Berkeley Unified School District. If students remarked on the television news crews, the principal would probably just say they were reporting a story, said Coplan. The intent is not to upset students.

The counseling department at Longfellow is helping students who already know abut the shooting and are upset, according to a comment left on Berkeleyside by a teacher at the school.

“Many of our students live in this neighborhood and many heard/saw much of what happened last night,” the teacher said in her comment. “They did not choose to live where they do. Longfellow is an incredibly safe, supportive environment and our counseling department has already addressed this event.”

Amanda, who has two children and is expecting twins, said, despite the shooting, she feels safe in the neighborhood. There is a strong neighborhood association, which means many local residents watch out for one another.

“It doesn’t feel targeted at the neighborhood,” she said. “I don’t feel scared at all to walk with my children here.”

A tweet about the Dec. 4 shooting

Sacramento Street has been the center of much of Berkeley’s violence in recent years. On March 29, 24-year-old Devin Lee Whitmore was shot on the 2800 block of Sacramento, right outside Bob’s Liquors. Nineteen-year-old Berkeley resident Calvester Houston Stewart has been charged with his murder. On Dec. 23, 2011, five men got into a gunfight on Sacramento Street near Woolsey. On March 26, police investigated a shooting at Sacramento near Russell.

Neighbors and members of the Sacramento Street Improvement Association have attributed some of the violence to the presence of an unlicensed cannabis collective at 2480-B Sacramento Street. After a long fight over zoning and other regulations, Perfect Plants Patients Group shut its doors in mid-November, which some residents said they hoped would bring more peace to the neighborhood.

The killing is the fourth homicide in Berkeley this year. In addition to Whitmore, Kenneth Warren was shot dead Jan. 26 near his workplace on the corner of Shattuck and Emerson. No one has been arrested in that case. On Feb. 18, Peter Cukor was bludgeoned to death outside his home on Park Gate in the Berkeley hills. A suspect, Daniel DeWitt, was charged with Cukor’s murder, but the trial was postponed when a judge ruled that DeWitt was mentally incompetent and sent him to Napa State Hospital.

In 2011, there was only one homicide in Berkeley.

The Berkeley Police Department asks anyone with information about this incident to call its Homicide Unit at 510-981-5741 or its non-emergency number at 510-981-5900. Callers may remain anonymous. Anyone with anonymous information may also call Bay Area Crime Stoppers at 800-222-TIPS (8477).

Female bicyclist shot and killed on Derby Street [12.06.12]
Sacramento Street shooting victim dies, arrest made [03.30.12]
Dec. 23 shooting involved five men with guns [03.07.12]

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  • We are also deleting comments that speculate/suggest who was responsible for the killing.

  • bgal4

    Not sure what neighborhood association is being referred to, which speaks to how disconnected civic engagement is in Berkeley. But I do know that unless the group is actively pursuing specific crime reduction actions or lobbying the city for Kevlar siding program, there is no rationale reason to believe you are safe down here. Sure there are a lot less shootings, mostly thanks to our efforts, SBCPC and ROC, on policy reforms. Stray bullets are inevitable. In this case the victim was shot outside an empty school yard, but anyone who actually knows the area can point out the bullet holes in homes and apts.

  • Daniel M

    Thank you.

  • BerkeleyLocalnotaGuest

    WOW, is the guest who says “criminal gang known as Occupy Oakland” really that idiotic? You should probably go to a therapist… Your ignorance is clear, your motives are not… This is a tragedy… and you are not helping in any way… in terms of the reporting… It isn’t even “11:36 p.m. on Dec. 5” yet, so that is a fact check that doesn’t add up… Anyway… PLEASE report with facts and check the article… and to the “GUEST”… you need to go away… OH, YOU are “indirectly responsible” for being an idiot publicly and spreading stupid ideas of nonsense and foolish speculation… idiot.

  • Fauxbama

    What is it with Liberal cities?

  • yellowfever

    The thai food.

  • Babayaga

    Right, because there’s no crime in “conservative cities”.

    What is it with right-wing trolls?

  • Charles_Siegel

    It is sad to see a troll trying to use this human tragedy for political purposes.

  • John doe


  • The Sharkey

    Why even include that stupid tweet?
    So much of Twitter is such a pathetic use of technology.

  • Who’s “we”?

  • I’ll speculate all I want …… Plenty of black gang violence in this neighborhood. Not a secret.

  • berkeleykev

    I think what people mean when they say “it’s actually pretty safe” is that the intended targets are usually people directly caught up in the unfortunate cycles of crime and addiction in the area.

    That doesn’t mean a stray bullet couldn’t find someone else, and it doesn’t mean you couldn’t get jumped for your bike/phone/purse. And it certainly doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t be upset.

    But the reality is that there simply aren’t a lot of random shootings or murders in the area.

  • A Berkeleyside editor. In this case, me. But other editors may take this decision too, hence the “we”.

  • bgal4

    I have lived in the area 35 years, and know more about the bad guys than most.

  • David D.

    Too bad the grammar police didn’t show up to take care of that tweet.

  • While this is yet another sad event, why is this getting so much attention? Berkeley homicides YTD:4. Oakland homicides YTD:116. News vans don’t show up for Oakland shootings, not even a news blurb most of the time. Why is it an outrage when someone is murdered in Berkeley but business as usual in Oakland?

  • Erica

    When I drove by at 3pm, a line of maybe 30 police officers with arms linked was combing the schoolyard, step by step. I can’t imagine that the students don’t know what is going on by now.

  • The Sharkey

    Had you considered that, perhaps, it is getting so much attention because Berkeley usually has very few homicides while homicides in Oakland get less individual attention because there are so many of them?

    The more common something is, the less people pay attention to it.

  • The Sharkey

    Not a lot of random shootings, but plenty of random theft, mugging, pistol-whipping, etc.

  • guest

    What you say about homicide in Oakland is inaccurate which may be why it seems odd to you. Killings in Oakland always are reported. For example, a shooting of four people was reported on CBS5 last night and this one in Berkeley was not.

  • guest

    What difference does the ‘color’ of gang violence make?

  • Charles_Siegel

    Old joke: editors and monarchs are allowed to call themselves “we.”

    Search in wikipedia for “the editorial we.”

  • TN

    The Oakland Tribune has updated its story on the murder. They now report the identity of the victim and that she lived 100 ft from where she was murdered. She had been commuting by bicycle.

  • berkeleykev

    You also have the “school” angle- all the msm reports I read played up the “shooting at/near Berkeley school” angle, despite the fact that the shooting occurred late at night.

  • berkeleykev

    Yes, that all rings true to me from my experience living in the area. I don’t mean to downplay that at all. There have been daytime shootings there where it is a miracle that bystanders didn’t die. And that’s to say nothing of the PTSD all the residents suffer more or less constantly.

    But, while derping around on SFGate, for instance, I come across geniuses speculating on “gang initiation rites” causing thugs to randomly murder people. Seriously, this is seriously posed as a likely scenario.

    The reality is that almost all of the victims probably know their killers. Doesn’t make it ok, but there it is.

  • bgal4

    your kidding? Latino gangs and black street gangs operate differently. This homicide does not seem connected to gang activity.

  • guest

    What? No reference to White gangs, Asian gangs, native American gangs?

  • guest

    Oh yeah, girl gangs, and girl gangs in all of the colors mentioned above.

  • emraguso

    We (at Berkeleyside) can’t speak for other media outlets, but we do our best to cover all the important news in Berkeley, including homicides.

  • Mark Talmont

    I lived down the street from Berkeley High for 20 years and worked in retail with a youthful clientele. I never saw anything suggesting that there were any white gangs. In the 90s I saw a document that circulated among East Bay educators concerning gangs in the schools, they had colors/tatoos/hand signs/etc. It listed 58 black, 13 latino, 8 asian in the region (counting Samoans as Asian) no whites. By now I’m sure the latino factions have exploded and may exceed the black. You would have to go into the Central Valley to find any evidence of whites and it is not significant due to their declining numbers in the youth age group (it’s only 28% white in this state under 21 years). Of course there are white factions in the prisons.

    There is extensive info on the web worth looking at:
    the F.B.I. has a site with a bunch of links but it is of course politically vetted so it won’t show you what the two sites above do.

    Anybody else up for just legalizing drugs? I’m tired of this. You could actually manage it effectively on the same model as the Indian gaming, with “on-site only” purchase and consumption. But I’m afraid the money is so big (and filtered back into alleged “legitimate” enterprise) that it’s politically a no-go (9/11 exposer Mike Ruppert said all along that back-door drug money was propping up a number of banks and brokerage houses.) Besides you also have the politicians shrieking about the “war on drugs” putting their own youth in jail while in almost unfathomable denial about the endemic addictions plaguing their own communities.

  • 3rdGenBerkeleyan

    also it’s because homicides are accepted as normal in oakland something i hope never happens in Berkeley

  • Mark Talmont

    It’s simply a fact that the worst levels of violent crime are in cities that have seen left-wing, one-party rule for decades. Also terribly dysfunctional school systems and no it’s not lack of money because the Queen Mother of it all is D.C. itself with the highest per pupil spending and the worst test scores in the nation. I see students are being held up and shot on the way to school now in D.C. I know it the bitterest of pills for liberals to swallow but some of the conservative bromides about family structure and weak enforcement (starting with instant excuse-making for misbehavior in school) have got everything to do with this. Also the constant stream of violent, n-word, b-word, h-word “music”. I would go so far as to say that it is the self-identification with the n-word that is at the root of it all. Latino youths are starting to use it now, I remember when their internal term was “fool”.

    It is within the memory of a number of life-long Californians like me when Mexican families were rock-solid and their kids were actually LESS likely to act up in school than everybody else. Wow, is that ever long-gone. Who taught them to start messing up?

    The biggest untold story in the media this year (but it wouldn’t make “Project Censored”) was the explosion of youth violence centered in Obama’s home ground of Chicago, homicides triple the rate of NYC and flash mob incidents too numerous to document. I get WGN from Chicago on my cable, there were a bunch of sex assaults on teen girls there ON ELECTION DAY, one of them was close enough to Obama’s house that the neighbors all said “how could this happen with all the extra security?”. (perhaps because the perp grabbed the victim on her way to school). But this passed without coverage or comment by anybody I could see on the networks or newspapers.

  • guest

    Uh, what does this have to do with this homicide about which we know nothing of the victim including who took her life?

  • josh

    Oh yes, blame the pot parlor. Sweet.

  • 3rdGenBerkeleyan

    they probably should have combed the field before 400 kids trampled the grass all day long fat chance of finding a bullet after 800 feet walked all over the crime scene.

  • Dale

    The single homicide of 2011, Toby Eagle, was at his home not far from Sacramento, on Blake. Has there been any progress in investigating that murder?

  • Eric Westby

    While you’re obviously just commenting to get a rise out of folks, it should be mentioned again that there have been a grand total of four murders in Berkeley in all of 2012. Not exactly a liberal crime wave.

  • Berkeley chick

    Keep you insensitive speculations to yourself an your racist comments. This is a mother that has been lost and all of us that are from Berkeley especially the south are family no gangs sorry st least black ones…

  • Berkeley chick

    The police know who did it but can’t prove it everybody knows who did it

  • bgal4

    Mullins did not have children according to her family. There is nothing racist about acknowledging the existence of black street gangs.

  • tor_berg

    Liberal cities like New York, which has seen its homicide rate decline by 80% over the last 20 years? You mention Chicago, which saw 927 homicides in 1991 and 486 to date in 2012. You also mention Washington DC, which has cut its rate of violent crime in half since 1995.

    With our hysterical and sensationalist news media, it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that violent crime in the U.S. has been declining steadily since the late 1980s. It’s simply a fact that the U.S. is a far safer place than it was 20 years ago. And, as others have noted, while tragic, this was Berkeley’s 4th homicide this year, which places our homicide rate lower than that for the U.S. as a whole.

    Finally, I think you’d have some trouble distinguishing between right-wing and left-wing cities. Urban areas in the U.S., in general, are liberal.

    I think your causal inference could use some work.

  • guest

    “There is nothing racist about acknowledging the existence of black street gangs.”

    There is for ‘Berkeley chick’ who ought to be able to state her opinion. And there is a strong hint of racism since this post was made before the identity (including ethnicity) of the victim was known and before we know anything about why this woman was killed.

    There also is the issue of being rude and showing poor taste in the wake of a person being killed when it’s clear that whatever ‘reason’ the killer had is completely unjustified.

  • Iceland_1622

    This will not happen nor occur, however if one desired to reduce / halt this very quickly, it’s actually fairly simple.

    High Definition 24/7 neighborhood operational video cameras that scan all people, vehicles and plates passing through this neighborhood sector and *if* there is any such violation of human dignity and sanctity, post a 50 thousand dollar reward for the arrest and conviction of any perpetrators. Up the amount to 100k and you will see this cease fairly quickly. Again, this will not occur as per the denial, bureaucratic and social / political inertia and general acceptance of this as business as usual or a rare exception to the norm.

    Secondarily, and in light of the above, remove any and all of your children from the schools in this area and relocate all to another city / neighborhood. I am. Anything less is just and invitation and request for more of the same. The police are here to just pick of the pieces and fill out the paperwork and have told people as much, across time.

  • just wondering

    Yeah, those flash mobs are a big problem… They strike without warning, and you never know what they’ll do.