Few clues in Berkeley’s fourth homicide of 2012

The family of Pam Mullins, who was killed Dec. 4 while riding her bicycle on Sacramento Street, set out tea lights spelling her first name. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel

The family of Pam Mullins, who was shot dead Tuesday night while riding her bicycle on Sacramento Street, honored her memory by setting up a street memorial – and insisting she was not involved with drugs or gangs.

“We put the vigil up here to let people know she had a family,” said Mullins’ 26-year old niece Elexis Norris, who lives in San Leandro. “She ain’t alone. She had a family. That’s why we are out here.”

Norris, her first cousin Danielle Easley, 24, and some of Mullins’ six siblings attached a stuffed teddy bear and some balloons to a chain link fence that surrounds the field at Longfellow Middle School on Wednesday night. They set out tea lights to spell “Pam.”

Mullins, 50, was shot at the spot Tuesday night. It is just a half a block away from an apartment she moved into on Sacramento a little more than a month ago.

Berkeley police received a 911 call at 11:46 p.m. on Dec. 4 reporting that a female bicyclist was on the ground, possibly the result of a traffic accident. When police arrived, they found an unresponsive Mullins, who had been shot in the head. She was pronounced dead at the scene.

Pam Mullins’ nieces, Elexis Norris (l) and Danielle Easty (r) stand by a memorial they erected for her on Sacramento Street. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel

Mullins’ family found out about her death in the worst possible way – by watching television news, said Norris. Her brother Betram was watching a report on the killing Tuesday morning and recognized Mullins’ bike from the video, said Norris.

Mullins was born in Oakland, one of seven siblings, but had lived in Berkeley for many years. She had recently moved from an apartment on Alcatraz Avenue to the one on the 2700 block of Sacramento, near Ward Street, said Norris.

She was an in-home health care worker and she rode her bicycle everywhere, said her niece. Even though she had only been a local resident for a few weeks, even some of the kids in the afterschool program at Longfellow had started to recognize her because of the ubiquity of her bicycle.

Norris said Mullins was a warm and generous person and denied any suggestion she might have been involved in drugs.

“She was very loving,” said Norris. “She didn’t have any kids. All of her nieces and nephews were her kids. She was always smiling. I never saw her mad. I just don’t understand what happened.”

Berkeley police are investigating the shooting. On Wednesday, Berkeley police stood in close formation and combed the playing field at Longfellow.

While police have not revealed any possible motive, some neighbors speculated that the assassination-type killing — a shot to the head late at night — meant the slaying was not random and might involve some neighborhood beef.

Mullins’ killing is the fourth homicide in Berkeley in 2012.

Sacramento Street neighbors reel from latest shooting [12.05.12]
Female bicyclist shot and killed on Derby Street [12.05.12]

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  • Rachel Anderson

    Deepest condolences to her family. What a terrible loss.

  • jjohannson

    Deepest condolences to her family. And home health care work delivered by bike is honorable in every way. This is a terrible community loss.

  • bgal4

    Tragic, condolences to those close to her. If the family is correct that this could have been a robbery that went bad, i.e. they were attempting to steal her bike, the gun fired, so they took off without the bike.There have been armed robberies on these blocks lately.

  • voxhumana

    She’d only lived in that neighborhood a month, how much of a beef could have happened in that time? Any way to post a picture of her bike? Maybe people would remember something.

  • PragmaticProgressive

    Terribly sad. I hope that, with the passage of time, her family finds comfort in her memory.

  • berkopinionator

    If BUSD schools had security cameras outside our schools the police would have pictures of the person(s) that killed this woman. Security cameras around schools would deter crime and vandalism at and near our schools. A multi-camera security system is available for between $350 and $1,700. http://www.costco.com/surveillance-systems.html Do you support installing security cameras to monitor activity outside our schools?

  • RFScalf

    Heartbreaking. And perhaps absolutely random. Just reading about the victim one gets the sense she was likely innocent of any shady dealings or involvements. Just a person making her way through life as best she could.

  • guest

    Perhaps BPD isn’t telling you what they know?

    Some things that were reported on TV news last night made it sound as if this killer might be found.

  • bgal4

    Former address on Alcatraz is walking distance.

  • The Sharkey

    In a word, yes.

  • Anonymous

    The school has many security cameras. I don’t know about any in that area since it’s relatively far from the buildings on campus. But there are many at least inside Longfellow’s buildings.

  • Tizzielish

    I don’t know about schools having cameras but my apartment building has cameras and cameras DO NOT deter crime. It can be extremely difficult to ID anyone. My new Cannondale bike stolen from the secure bike room — needed a code to enter and the bike room covered with cameras but bike thief not identifiable. Other thieves stole a new, large rug from the lobby which is covered with two large cameras that capture every thing — but no one can find the thieves. Lately people enter the building by posing as visitors and asking residents with security access to help them out and many moron residents admit strangers. If you are genuinely here to visit a resident, the resident can, and should, let you in, there is no need to hit up strangers for admissions. Then these posers come in and commit crimes, like stealing the large screen TV in the community room or entering apartments to steal. Drug dealers set up in the stairwells, to avoid the cameras, I guess, and run business all weekend. This is right downtown and it goes on right in the open. If I see it, why don’t the cops? It’s happening right THERE on the street: a cop oughta know that a fire stairwell being held open all Fri and Sat night with lots of young people going in and out (and buying dope in the stairwells) . . .

    security cameras are a bit like the security-theater of airport security screening: it create the illusion of safety but does not measurably enhance safety. If someone is going to commit a crime, a camera does not stop them. and only rarely does anyone have the hours, maybe hundreds of hours, to look at the film when a crime commited. I guess they might look if it is murder but for rugs and tv’s? Security cameras are an illusion of security.

    My 8th grade teacher was a moonlighting Chicago Police Lieutenant. My dad said he took the teaching gig to cover all his graft income — but who knows? That teacher said “locked doors only keep honest people honest, if someone wants to steal from your house, they can and they will” I think it’s the same with security cameras: I think they MIGHT slow down people who aren’t criminals on a regular basis. Regular criminals know the cameras are security theater, not real security.

  • The Sharkey

    Maybe you should move.

  • >I guess they might look if it is murder

    In this case, it is a murder.

    Some of the deficiencies with security cameras are technological: They tend to be low resolution and a couple of generations behind the current state-of-the-art in pattern recognition. The next generation will be very much better, but the trade-off is giving up some expectation of anonymity in public places.

  • Che Joubert

    Even if this woman wasn’t involved with gangs she might have inadvertently offended someone. The shot to the head late at night is indeed a signature behavior, though who knows really why it happened. What I’ve seen for months, using the Trulia crime map, is that crime is increasing. There’s much more crime above the Macarthur freeway now, for instance – Laural, Diamond, Fruitvale. There was an armed robbery in Glenview, of all places. Whatever the reason, crime tends to regulate real estate values and demographics better than any other method – keeping Berkeley higher than other communities, and promising neighborhoods in Oakland lower than they should be.

  • guest

    “Even if this woman wasn’t involved with gangs…”

    Why on earth would you make this statement? Do you have any information that connects her to gangs or that makes her involvement with gangs something that we should assume until we are told otherwise? Do you want us to infer that the way she was killed tells us something about her and not something about the criminals who killed her? It was bad enough that her family members felt the need to deny that she was involved in gangs or drugs.

    How would it be if we left this poor woman to rest in peace, her family and friends (of which she seemed to have plenty) to grieve and celebrate her life, and the police to figure out who did this cowardly act and bring him, her, or them to justice?

  • bgal4

    Most of the homicides, if not all, in south Berkeley are gang and/or drug related.

    Street memorials these days especially in innercity neighborhoods are related to street violence, the family statements are a response to that fact.

  • Che Joubert

    I’m sorry if my thoughts were expressed poorly. I lost a son a few years ago in the same way this woman was killed. I assumed this woman wasn’t involved in gangs and was just trying to say that sometimes a gang can see someone as a threat just because they were near a crime, or for any stupid reason, say she was befriending someone they had marked as an enemy. What I did say in my post was that the way she was killed indicated the possibility of gang behavior, which is very depressing to me in behalf of all those good people whose lives are taken almost for sport, let along out of fear or hate.

  • guest

    I am sorry for your loss.

  • Neighbor

    How nice.

  • Charles_Siegel

    Do you call the police to complain about the trespassing and drug dealing? Try calling the police every Fri and Sat night, as soon as you hear people hanging out in the hallways, and you can probably get rid of the problem.