Man shot dead in Berkeley, first homicide of 2013


Berkeley police’s crime scene van near the site of the shooting on Delaware Street. Photo: Emilie Raguso

By Lance Knobel and Emilie Raguso

Update, Feb. 5: The name of the victim of the Feb. 4 fatal shooting on Delaware Street has not been released by authorities, but in an article in the Oakland Tribune he was identified as 34-year-old Zontee Jones. Jones’ girlfriend, Teena Alexander, told reporter Doug Oakley that the slain man lived in Berkeley and Richmond, and worked as a maintenance man at her apartment building on Delaware.

Update 4:29 p.m. Police have released a statement indicating that the victim suffered from multiple gunshot wounds. He was 34. His name has not been released by police “out of respect for those family or friends that still need to be notified of his passing.”

Police ask witnesses with information about this incident to call the department’s homicide detail at 510-981-5741, or the department’s non-emergency number, 510-981-5900. Tipsters who wish to  remain anonymous can call the Bay Area Crimes Stoppers at 800-222-TIPS (8477).

Update 2:55 p.m. A man was shot and killed at around 11 a.m. Monday on Delaware Street just west of San Pablo Avenue.

According to Berkeley Police spokeswoman Officer Jennifer Coats, Berkeley police and Albany paramedics responded to multiple calls starting at 11:08 a.m. reporting shots fired at 1080 Delaware. When police arrived, they found a man who had been shot at least once. Coats said no one was in custody and that the victim’s identity had not been released.

The victim was taken to Highland Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

According to Coats, Berkeley police are on the scene collecting evidence and interviewing witnesses. Delaware had been blocked off with crime tape at both San Pablo and 10th Street.

“We have had reports that people were seen running from the area,” Coats said. “They’re still trying to figure out if they were involved in the incident.”

Caption here

A shooting around 11 a.m. on Monday morning occurred near the intersection of Delaware and San Pablo

Update 2 p.m. Another witness told Berkeleyside that she saw the victim turn right from San Pablo and walk west on Delaware. He was with another young man, who was wearing a red jacket. She then heard a “pop, pop,” sound.

“I made a comment, ‘That’s not a firecracker,” she said. “And then we heard people screaming, ‘Where’s the police? Where’s the ambulance?'”

She and others nearby went over to try to help calm the scene until police arrived. Young people were crowded around the victim and she reminded them to try to move the victim as little as possible. She said she called police twice, and saw many others on their phones also trying to get through to emergency personnel.

“In a situation like that,” the witness said, “seconds seem like forever. It seemed like forever before [the police] got here.”

She described the scene as “horrible, heart-wrenching.” “He was just a kid. What a waste,” she said.

A crime scene tech photographs items at the scene of Monday's shooting. Photo: Emilie Raguso

A crime scene tech photographs items at the scene of Monday’s shooting. Photo: Emilie Raguso

Update 1:40 p.m. Berkeleyside spoke to a witness who was nearby at the time of the shooting. The witness, who asked not to be identified, said he heard a “pop, pop, pop,” and saw a man who he believes was the victim running east on Delaware.

When the witness got closer, he saw the victim lying by a car in front of 1080 Delaware. A number of people were yelling, “Oh, they shot him! Oh, they killed him!” The witness described the victim as a black man who appeared to be in his 20s. The witness said that shortly after the sounds of shooting, he saw a car drive away east on Delaware, but he wasn’t sure if it was related.

This morning’s shooting is the first homicide of the year in Berkeley. In 2012, there were five homicides in the city.

Berkeleyside will update the story as details emerge. This story was originally posted at 1:07 p.m.

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  • Bob

    Bings is not 24 hrs nor a 7-11

  • bgal4

    Jamaal Prince arrested for the brutal murder of Jessica Kingeter Dec 28, 2012, Prince was staff at 40 Acres pot club, the club you are defending.

  • berkeleykev

    What evidence is there that this has anything at all to do with the dispensary? Or is that just a knee-jerk association with no evidence whatsoever?

    Remember how everyone was convinced that the dispensary on Sacto was bringing crime to that area, then after it closed a woman was murdered there. I wouldn’t seriously argue this point, but it would actually be more reasonable (from an epidemiological position) to argue that that dispensary kept murder at bay.

    There are plenty of reasonable arguments for shutting the dispensary on San Pab down (and I am in favor of it being closed, fwiw) but “dispensaries are likely to lead to murder” is not a reasonable general statement, and unless there is specific info that connects the two in this particular case, one loses credibility by consistently crying wolf.

  • Stella D.

    And on that note, what does the adult school have to do with drug dealing?

  • Stella D.

    If the city is not safe for some, it is not safe for all. Where should black males under 25 live to be safe?

  • The Sharkey

    I can’t tell if you’re replying to me, or to Chris.
    Section 8 housing tends to be associated with increased crime rates.

  • The Sharkey

    Not much, other than that it’s a geographic point of interest and it’s sad to see people shot to death near Berkeley schools of any kind.

  • Mrs. B

    This incident is really sad, I know the victim and I send my condolences to his family! Regardless of the area don’t speculate, you don’t know what happened. I lived in that area for over 10 years and raised a son there in which I felt very safe (for my son and myself)! I hope his family gets justice, no family should bury family members due to 21st century gunslingers, and the violence needs to stop!!!!

  • BING’s

    That liquor store has been there for the past 80 years more before anybody moved in the neighborhood … How is that somthing to blame ?’s people’s actions an how they preseve them not the surrounding’s

  • Guest

    This is another one of those comments that makes the murder sound like some sort of natural disaster or random accident. It wasn’t. Somebody did it, and the victim may or may not have been engaged in an activity that put him at risk. It is important for the community to understand what happened. It wasn’t a storm, a lightening strike, or an earthquake.

  • Tizzielish

    I venture to guess that the housing you refer to is affordable housing, not low income. There is a significant difference. People who earn up to 65% of the area’s medium income are eligible to live in affordable housing — that income level includes quite a lot of people not considered low income. Keep your bias in your pants? er, I mean, your head.

  • Tizzielish

    I don’t subscribe to the Wall Street Journal so I could not read the article. The headline, I concede, was emotionally inflammatory, I give you that. Gee, is the WSJ the same conservative newspaper of yore?!! Is it possible they report news with lots of conservative bias? Does the WSJ seem to oppose all things Obama? Any chance the story is biased?

    There is no such thing as Section 8 housing. There are housing vouchers that people can use anywhere the landlord will accept them. If folks paying rent, in part — everyone with a voucher pays some of their own rent — with a voucher are clustered, it is because landlords in general refuse to rent to them. If clustering low income, rent-subsidized citizens is a goal, make landlords consider the voucher income as any other form of income, stop discriminating against the voucher income and then you solve the problem of having dense clusters of low income people.

    But again, I reiterate: I am pretty sure the housing near this murder is affordable, not low income.

  • Tizzielish

    “based on the design and clientele” — what, you make such an informed, and informational, comment based on hard data!! no speculation and wrong assumptions for you, eh,David D.?

  • Tizzielish

    So you condemn 40 Acres along with the accused Jamaal Prince? good logic and fair thinking, bgal4.

  • Annoyed

    And the people at Bing’s might say that there are unsavory people hanging around the legal drug dispensary called the Albatross (and I do mean the bar, not whatever’s upstairs.)

  • redrick

    rest in peace zontee, love you boy

  • redrick

    and now right there is not low income housing, as a matter of fact a lot of well of people live right there

  • redrick

    thank you

  • redrick

    well to let all you wanderers know, i happen to be from right there and very well acquainted with the victim. we all grew up there, got our first drinks from that store, and yes drugs are dealt in the area (yours too) usually not right there, we walk that street every single day, so we are easy to find, so until more is know save you speculation and just remember no matter what happen some one is dead, and it could have been you!!!!

  • red

    im from west berk. that is west berkeley

  • red


  • David D.

    Actually, yes. I have an urban planning background, so I have a pretty good eye for them. Also, the residents of the units do not fit the demographics of the area, of which I am well acquainted. I’ve never had any issues with them, passing by twice a day pretty much every day, so you would be putting words in my mouth if you thought I took offense to their presence.

  • The Sharkey

    So much to say about something you haven’t read.
    Google the article title and you can find a version you can read without logging in.

  • The Sharkey

    I know. I’m not offended, I just don’t think making jokes about a murder that happened mere hours ago is particularly tasteful.

  • The Sharkey

    When you make comments like that, it just makes it clear that you aren’t very familiar with that area.

  • Test It

    So why would they take him to Highland Hospital instead of Alta Bates?

  • bgal4

    You’re leaving out Project based vouchers which are administered by the section 8 program as well as the tenant based vouchers. The federal subsidy is tied to the unit, so the tenant can not move at will. Plenty of affordable housing development include project based section 8 units.

  • bgal4

    Trauma center at Highland.

  • PragmaticProgressive

    Daily Cal reports that Albany Fire took the victim to Highland. What was Berkeley Fire doing that they couldn’t handle the transport?

  • Guest

    Bing’s Liquor, and the Popeye’s nearby, are magnets for crime. I’ve had a couple of close calls on that corner, and because of that I always cross the street when I have to walk by there. The bench at the bus stop in front of Popeye’s doesn’t help, either — it’s frequently occupied by a group of drunk guys who aren’t waiting for any bus.

  • Guest

    Or we could just make it easier for the city to shut down nuisance liquor stores. There should also be a category for nuisance fast-food places — as the Popeye’s is a part of the problem. The McDonald’s at University and Shattuck also falls into that category, in my opinion,

  • AnonyMouse

    It could have been me? Really? I’ll bet you dollars to donuts this was not a random act of violence. Pointless, yes. Your tone is one of fear. Mine is outrage.

    thugs only have power because we let them.

  • Guest

    How dare she point out a fact!

  • Guest

    I hate to break it to you, but it already is, and has been for many years. And I say that as another fan of Casa Latina and the Albatross.

  • Guest

    Good grief — are you really that naive? The current owners of Bing’s are completely irresponsible.

  • Guest

    (I’m not the same guest as the one who made the bakery comment.)

  • Guest

    It takes a middle-class income to live there, but that area still has a lot of “urban problems” not usually associated with middle-class neighborhoods. No offense, but I still consider it transitional.

  • Tizz, your info isn’t based on facts.

    If you talk to landlords in my part of town, you learn that many have accepted Sect. 8 tenants because rent control has distorted the local rental market and for some properties it has been more profitable to rent to sect. 8.

    I know of some good people on my block with Sect 8 vouchers, and I also know that BHA turns a blind eye to violations of federal HUD regulations, which has had a devastating impact on my block and my neighborhood. I know this because i was a block captain in neighborhood watch in the past and worked with BPD, Darryl Moore’s office, and the City Manager’s office.

    The attitude of BHA was so absurd, I filed a complaint with HUD and urged they conduct another audit federal of BHA.

    So, yes, the WSJ headline is somewhat sensational, but unfortunately it is accurate for my neighborhood. Try to open your mind to the fact that all those in disagreement with you aren’t fascist, or (God forbid….gasp) Republican.

  • The Sharkey

    While I agree with you about those businesses being at the heart of nexuses of negative behavior, I think the issues at these fast food places are merely symptoms of other problems rather than causes.

    I’ve never noticed the same kind of behavior at the Church’s Chicken just a couple blocks down the street, even though they sell almost identical food at almost identical prices. The problems with Popeye’s seem to be a result of their location right in the middle of a run-down liquor store and a couple of what appear to be Section 8 OK/low-income housing complexes.

    The reason the McDonald’s on Shattuck is so disgusting is a direct result of Berkeley’s failed policies on the homeless. The location on San Pablo is also owned by the same person, and suffers none of the same problems with clientele.

  • The Sharkey

    Depends. Even if the cameras couldn’t identify faces, if they had been able to catch the license plate of the car that sped away it would have given the Police an invaluable lead.

  • The Sharkey

    Statistically? As far away from other black males under 25 as possible.,_California#Crime_dynamics

  • That’s because you aren’t familiar with modern high definition IP-based CCTV that is the standard used and recommended by law enforcement around the world. These cameras can provide a clear image of a license plate over a football field away. These systems have been available for years…years…are more affordable every year and have been discussed in professional forums and papers by me (a technology analyst) and in places like Police Chief Magazine.

    It takes time and $ to rip and replace legacy CCTV infrastructure. Instead of poo pooing an entire class of technology as ineffective security theatre, educate yourself and speak to the facts.

  • Good example of why California needs to follow the lead of Colorado to institute heavy regulation and mandatory background checks for everyone that’s wants to work for and/or start a dispensary.

    Without strong regulations and enforcement, the dispensary industry looks and feels more like Speakeasies than legitimate businesses.

  • sb

    some mother has lost a son, does it really matter why? The pain does not change….we need to stop the killing of our children

  • Guest

    Yes, it does matter why — and addressing the reasons for it does not imply a lack of sympathy for the victim or his mother.

    Also, this man was 34 — not a child, and not “just a kid,” as a neighbor quoted in the article described him. When you say “we need to stop the killing of our children” you refuse to name the agent.

    As another poster pointed out, however, events like this are not the same as natural disasters that just happen because, hey, we live on the Hayward Fault. One adult deliberately killed another adult, and there’s a good chance it was over turf or drugs. And hell yes, it needs to stop, for two reasons: that 34-year-old man’s life was still precious, no matter what he may have been involved in; moreover, the law-abiding people who live in that neighborhood should not have to live in constant fear.

  • Guest

    What makes a fast-food place a problem magnet is the management’s refusal to enforce a no-loitering policy. You can have the same owner, but a different attitude on the part of the people who are actually there running the place say-to-day.

    I agree that Berkeley’s policies on the homeless (or more accurately, panhandling and loitering, since many of those people are in fact housed) have failed, but that does not completely excuse the businesses. It’s not necessarily the owners who are directly responsible, but the staff. Some have given up trying to deal with the loiterers because it’s an endless, thankless task (as both the staff AND the late owner of the now burned-to-cinders Cafe Intermezzo once explained to me, when I asked him why his employees were letting some filthy nutcase go from table to table asking customers for money and scraps); others are PROUD of being welcoming to such people.

    An example of the latter? A regular loiterer outside the now-defunct Black Oak Books treid to intimidate me. I complained to aging lefty who worked at the register, and got a lecture about Important Social Issues, with a little pseudo-Buddhism thrown in. So I found a manager, and mentioned the problem with the loiterer and the cashier. He took care of things immediately, and apologized for the cashier’s non-action.

    If the people who worked at either the San Pablo Popeye’s or the Shattuck McD’s gave a damn, those corners would not be as bad as they are.

  • bgal4

    “OUR” kids does not work for me, this is the point where distinctions need to be made in order to stop the violence.

    My kids are good citizens, they are stand ups, they report information to law enforcement, they do not carry or use illegal handguns, they do not live by the street code.

    We are snitches.

    When ” I AM A SNITCH” because a celebrated cause, then we will be turning a corner towards reestablishing sanity and respect for society.

    These killings are often about “respect” yet these people have no respect for life.

    My family rejects this pathology. We respect the rule of law.

  • Guest

    (Edit: “day-to-day”).

  • bgal4

    Agreed, at the state level. Cities need to adopt a fee based monitoring enforcement program for the permitted dispensaries, particularly to ensure that dispensaries abide by operating conditions discouraging diversion of product to minors and to street sales.

  • The Sharkey

    I have a hard time blaming the counter staff at these places. If you were making minimum wage at a fast food joint, would you want to put your personal safety on the line trying to shoo away people hanging out on the sidewalk in front of your store? Or in the case of that McDonald’s, face lawsuits from “homeless advocates” for “discrimination” if they try to get bums to leave the store on a timely manner.

    If we had enforceable loitering laws in this city I’d say that BPD ought to start getting out of their squad cars and enforcing those laws, but thanks to those same “homeless advocates” the few anti-loitering laws we have in this city are completely toothless at this point.