Two Ashkenaz employees shot during robbery

Ashkenaz's rustic-looking building on San Pablo. Photo: Jeremy Brooks

Ashkenaz’s rustic-looking building on San Pablo. Photo: Jeremy Brooks

Two employees of Ashkenaz were shot and seriously injured early Saturday morning during an armed robbery of the popular dance center at 1317 San Pablo Ave., currently celebrating its 40th anniversary.

Two people with guns walked into the crowded dance hall around 12:05 a.m. and demanded cash, according to a press release by the Berkeley Police Department. The suspects fired guns during the robbery and bullets struck two employees, according to police.

Berkeley police arrived quickly and saw one suspect running down San Pablo Avenue, according to police. Officers quickly surrounded the block, warned neighbors to stay inside, and brought in BPD’s Barricaded Subject Hostage Negotiation Team. Berkeley police, along with a deputy from the K-9 unit of the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department, did a yard-to-yard search for the suspect. He was finally located behind a building in the 1300 block of San Pablo Avenue. He was taken into custody and arrested. The other suspect remains at large. Berkeley police are not releasing any names at this time.

“An officer saw somebody leaving the area that may have matched the description that had been provided,” Officer Jennifer Coats, Berkeley Police spokeswoman, told KTVU news. “The officer attempted to stop that person, and he fled from the officer.”

The two Ashkenaz employees who were shot were taken to the hospital and treated for “serious” injuries, according to police. They are in stable condition and are expected to recover, according to a post on Ashkenaz’s Facebook page.

“We at Ashkenaz are deeply touched by the support and concern already expressed by so many in response to last night’s events. We are relieved and grateful to report that our two family members are in stable condition and expected to recover.”

“Ashkenaz will be open Saturday night and beyond. As we conclude our anniversary celebration, we have more reason than ever to honor 40 Years of Dancing for Peace. We invite and welcome all friends and community members to come out and show support and solidarity. Stop the Violence!”

The shooting is eerily reminiscent of Dec. 19, 1996, when the founder and owner of Ashkenaz Music and Dance Community Center, David Nadel, was shot and killed by a disgruntled and drunk patron whom Nadel had ejected from the club earlier that evening. The perpetrator has never been caught.

Nadel transformed Ashkenaz from a decrepit building into a thriving music hall that featured performers from all over the world. After his death, Ashkenaz supporters purchased the building from Nadel’s family, turned the business into a non-profit, and continued to offer an electrifying array of music. Ashkenaz has also become a community center, with classes, dance nights and a place for young musicians to perform.

The dance hall is putting on a 10-day celebration of its 1973 founding with a wide array of music. On Friday night, SambaDa, an Afro-Brazilian band from Santa Cruz, and Locura performed.

The Berkeley Police Department asks anyone with information about the incident to call them at 510-981-5742 or 510 981-5900. Callers who wish to remain anonymous can provide tips to Bay Area Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.

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  • bgal4

    We learned from Menseh, an employee, during a TV news interview that she and Chin were going through the cash receipts.

    Not sure what they could do differently to restrict people assess to the club, since people enter first and then approach the ticket sales table.

  • serkes

    I’ve re-read the article and realized that it doesn’t say if the Alameda County Deputy + K-9 unit was responsible in locating and/or cornering the suspect.

    I’ve assumed that the police dog played an important role, but it’s not clear from the article


  • bgal4

    >Berkeley police, along with a deputy from the K-9 unit of the Alameda
    County Sheriff’s Department, did a yard-to-yard search for the suspect.

  • serkes

    They all did the search; was curious if it was the police dog or deputy/police who found the suspect.


  • …never resist them for your own safety.

    The “advice” of authorities that aren’t there to protect you when the poop hits the fan should be taken into consideration, but advice is just that…advice.

    Never forget that victim resistance on United Flight 93 prevented a larger tragedy.

    Life isn’t black and white, it’s various shades of grey. Judgement calls have to be made when law enforcement isn’t there (which is 99.999% of the time).

  • bob

    The only thing rising faster than rent in the east bay is crime

  • wheeler57

    Even though I basically agree with you in principle, I still think it is very dangerous to resist someone who has a loaded gun, especially if you don’t have one.

  • Sunrise250

    I like gunsmen better… a bit more hateful… . (It was unknown if either had committed any crimes previously, so, while they were engaged in committing criminal acts, they might have been law abiding citizens a day earlier.) They were armed robbers… live with it.