Berkeley school staffer assaulted, pepper sprayed

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The victim works at Thousand Oaks Elementary School

A staff member at Berkeley’s Thousand Oaks Elementary School was assaulted while walking to her car just after 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday Jan. 22.

She was approached from behind, sprayed in the face with pepper spray and her purse was stolen, according to the school’s Principal, Gayle Hughes, who sent out a note to the school community dated Jan. 23.

The victim’s car was parked on Catalina Avenue, two blocks away from the school which is on Colusa Ave. at Tacoma in north Berkeley.

The note goes on to describe the suspect as a Caucasian female with shoulder-length, straight, reddish hair and brown or black plastic glasses. “She was approximately 5’3” tall and was of average build. Immediately after the attack, a late model white SUV, without model/brand markings (possibly a Tahoe) drove up and the attacker jumped inside and sped away. The license number included “15M” and possibly an “H”.”

“Aside from the emotional trauma and pepper spray, [the victim] counts herself fortunate that nothing else happened,” Principal Hughes wrote. “No one else was on the street at the time.”

The case is under investigation by the Berkeley Police Department.

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  • EarlyMorningCoffee

    There is nothing typical about this incident.

  • Zelda Bronstein

    Which is to say, what–that there’s nothing to be alarmed about?

  • guest

    It’s so far outside the norm that it seems almost like there must be more to it than just a simple snatch-and-grab. Payback for flunking someone’s kid, perhaps?

  • PragmaticProgressive

    why on earth would you draw that conclusion Zelda?

  • No, it’s to say that several of the aspects of the crime are atypical: a small, female, white, hipster?(plastic glasses) assaulter, who used pepper spray (not a knife, gun, etc.). Which could easily lead one to believe that this was not a random robbery…

  • BHS verteran

    A reminder that assumptions which put a face on a crime before it happens are dangerous.

    Example: Our street had been hit been hit by multiple car smash and grabs, unlocked cars rifled etc.. Looking out our window one morning around 8:00 I saw a little girl, maybe 9-10 years old, white, with pigtails and back pack walking down the sidewalk trying car doors. I couldn’t believe it! Then she jumps into our neighbor’s SUV and starts tossing the glove compartment. Just as i get the window open to yell I see a white male strolling up. The little girl hands him the back. I yell at them, the guy runs one way and the little girl skips on down the street. My neighbors only lost a few cd’s, but what a lesson learned!

  • Somethingsneverend.

    The creativity of criminals only astounds a person. If only they could apply that energy to something useful to the community. I hope the person mugged will recover quickly.

  • guest

    The fact that the offender was white does not make the crime atypical (even though that is a common assumption for a variety of reasons).

    According to a study by the Judicial Council of CA, in 2007 in California, “Hispanics made up the largest percentage of reported felony defendants in 2007 (41percent), followed by whites (35 percent) and blacks (21 percent).” Link:,d.eWU&cad=rja.

  • How about sharing some actual relevant statistics, such as those for robbery and/or aggravated assault in Berkeley, CA? The demographics of Berkeley are incredibly different than those of the entire state of California.

  • 4Eenie

    That’s some selective reading you did there.
    Mfox327 did not say the crime was atypical because the perpetrator was white. Mfox327 said it was atypical because the perpetrator was the following combination of traits:
    Hipster (?)
    Not sure what your point is to drill in to just one of the many traits described by MFox327.

  • guest

    No, he/she said “several aspects of the crime are atypical”. I agree the others are probably atypical. The fact that the offender was white is not an aspect of the crime that is atypical.

  • 3rdGenBerkeleyan

    Teachers don’t flunk kids…kids flunk themselves and more responsible are the parents for the example they give to their children.

  • guest

    Are you sure about that? If the Police Blotter is any industrycation, white muggers are a rarity.

  • 4thInfSgt

    Don’t these morons realize that teachers don’t get paid enough?