Berkeley High lockdown follows robbery attempt


Scuderi: playing “safe and conservative”

[Editor’s Note: This story has been updated throughout the day. Scroll down for updates.]

Berkeley High went on a precautionary lockdown at around 10:30 a.m. Wednesday following police activity involving a report of a weapon near the school.

Berkeley Police Lt. Dave Frankel said the incident began just after 10:20 a.m. when a lone man “dressed in distinctive Army clothing” entered a business in the 2200 block of Shattuck Avenue and tried to rob it with a simulated weapon. The business didn’t cooperate, said Frankel, and the man left. He was followed by an employee who called police, and officers responded within minutes.

The caller said the man went into the downtown post office, so police set up a perimeter and put Berkeley High on lockdown temporarily. Police notified postal employees to shelter in place. Officers detained the man inside the building without incident, and a witness identified him as the person involved in the robbery attempt. His name was not available pending booking.

According to reports from students, Principal Pasquale Scuderi announced that “we will always play situations like this safe and conservative.” The lockdown lasted less than 30 minutes. No students were reported in danger.

At 10:57 a.m., BHS sent out an email to the school community which read: “On the advise of the Berkeley Police Department there was a brief lock down during a police action off campus. The lock down is over. Everyone is safe. More information will follow.”

Update, 3:07 p.m. Principal Scuderi sent the following notice to parents via email at 12:23 p.m.

Dear BHS Families and Staff:

This morning at approximately 10:25 a.m. the Berkeley Police Department received a call of an attempted robbery in the downtown area possibly involving a weapon. 

Our understanding is that BPD believed that the adult suspect ran into the post office directly across from our school at Allston and Milvia.

The size and nature of the police response led us to alert safety officers and campus monitors, and shorty thereafter we were advised by BPD to lock our campus down. We remained in lockdown from approximately 10:30 a.m. until 10:40 a.m.

We have received word that the person BPD was looking for is in custody.

A lockdown, or a complete securing of the campus, often serves two purposes; namely, to prevent potential harm from entering the campus and also to prevent kids and adults on our campus from exiting into situations that could be extremely dangerous.

In general, we believe we had an effective response from our staff and our kids. As always, we will review our processes and protocols, take feedback from staff and students, and assess our response so that we continuously improve in all practices and protocols related to student and staff safety.

I am fully aware of the unsettling tension and anxiety these situations invoke, and can assure you that Berkeley High School will always approach any direct or indirect threat to student or staff safety with the highest levels of concern and with the most appropriate precautions.

Update, 4 p.m. The man who was arrested after Wednesday morning’s robbery attempt was 41-year-old John Lott, according to the Alameda County sheriff’s department. Lott was booked into custody on suspicion of second-degree robbery. He’s being held with a bail of $100,000 at the Berkeley Jail. Lott is scheduled for arraignment at 2 p.m. on Friday, March 22, at the Wiley W. Manuel Courthouse in downtown Oakland.

Additional reporting was contributed to this story by Emilie Raguso.

Want to get breaking news quickly? Follow Berkeleyside on Twitter and on Facebook and download thefree Berkeleyside iPhone app.

Print Friendly
Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,
Please keep our community civil. Comments should remain on topic and be respectful.
Read our full comments policy »
  • bgal4

    and to think that former principal Jim Slemp (Alan Miller mentor) refused to allow or prepare for lock down procedures.

  • 4eenie

    Was the simulated weapon so obviously fake that the business knew it was in no danger? Thank goodness this incident ended with no one harmed. Good work to the person who called BPD, and to BPD as well!

  • Douglas H Finley

    Remember, Berkeley voters, this is the kind of person you voted to continue allowing to sit & lie on the sidewalks in front of businesses on Shattuck. And then you complain about the empty storefronts…

  • EBV

    I’m so happy they were told in time and that they do have LOCK DOWN. There should be a special alarm for the whole campus to hear that they know it’s a lock down going. My daughter is a student at BHS and I just found out about it online here.

  • Tizzielish

    You have no way to know that the person who attempted to rob a downtown business is a homeless person who sits and lies on the sidewalks in front of businesses on Shattuck.

    Fact-based judgments sorta went out of fashion when George W ( or was is Dick?!) took us and the world into a ten year war over nonexistent weapons of mass destruction. Remember when little George put on an pilot’s uniform and landed on a battle ship under a banner saying “mission accomplished”. I know the George W memories are unrelated to this story but it seems related to your wild leap into assuming facts not in evidence. that’s how George W. ran the country: assuming facts not in evidence.

    let’s get back to public policy discussions limited to fact-based facts?

  • Tizzielish

    It must have gone smoothly because I walked across Civic Center park about 11:05, and went to the post office after crossing the street at the h.s. intersection and the whole world was calm, the visible world I could see, anyway.

  • 4eenie


  • PragmaticProgressive

    let’s get back to public policy discussions limited to fact-based facts?

    If you can meet that standard, I would be so happy.

  • I’m aiming low, at 27. But depending on who weighs in, I’ve got a lock for buzzword bingo (Berkeleyside comments edition)

  • Douglas H Finley

    Tizzielish, you seem to be assuming that just because I’m against letting alcoholics, drug addicts & psychos live on & block sidewalks that I was in favor of Dubya. Couldn’t be more wrong. I thought he was an international embarrassment, & think that these unfortunate people should get adequate housing & treatment for their many mental & medical problems.

    > You have no way to know that the person who attempted to rob a downtown business is a
    > homeless person who sits and lies on the sidewalks in front of businesses on Shattuck.

    Apologist. Not yet, but I do know that most of the people I see wearing some kind of Army outfit in Berkeley are homeless. Some are harmless, but some choose such outfits to look more menacing. A more competent robber would’ve worn something less conspicuous & used a real gun.

  • guest

    Well, looks like they have the procedures they need, one-track mind.

  • bgal4

    thanks to parents, such as me.

  • guest

    Who am I?
    I am someone who manages to think about many issues other than my grievances with BUSD.
    I wish I could say the same for you.

  • bgal4

    you are mistaken. read what I wrote, you are taking credit away from the parents, the stakeholders in public education and giving it to the admin who do not deserve it.

  • savingracesarah

    I saw notice of the lock down at noon when my BHS etree included it in an update. I think this was impressive notification. My senior could have texted me but apparently wasn’t that exciting!

  • savingracesarah

    Yes, I voted against sit and lie laws! I would still allow the homeless to sit on the sidewalks. Its more than what our public agencies could do for the ill and destitute. Warm and dry hallways exist in many public buildings and provide shelter for those in need. Community means just that. We are only as strong as the weakest link. So mister, close yourself up in your castle and hope nobody in need tries to steal your property you hoard to yourself.

    The obvious is right in front of us. People are suffering and are in need. I was taught not to walk on by. It saddens me to hear so much hostility in “liberal” Berkeley. I remember when the mentally ill and homeless started lining the streets. Whether the streets or the jails we pay one way or another.

  • psy-ops is running heavy to limit your natural rights to defense against tyranny. every story involving a fire-arm gets 100X play, by order. till ‘Bama goes or the anti-gun bill passes. bunch of hooey.

  • Douglas H Finley

    You need to start taking your meds again.

  • Fixberkeley1

    Couldn’t be more right. All the hills dwellers don’t give a hoot about commerce and shattuck, they also don’t care about robberies and sus people.

  • Bill N

    You know Slemp left almost (over?) 2 years ago, your comments might be more meaningful if they addressed what’s happening now and how its being handled rather than Slemp this and Slemp’s administration that.

  • bgal4

    I have recently made important comments about security matters, did you miss them?

    You do understand that the district and board should have intervened druing Slemp tenure and directed him to put securtiy procedures foremost? My statement was about the board and district management style, and I think that is as relevant today as in 2010.

    Lest we forgot teacher Alan Miller posted a response to me on this story
    He talked about his work on school safety ( which really amounted to campaigning for the tax measure BB) and included this admiring statement about Slemp
    “I first heard it from Jim Slemp. It’s our fault if we do not improve on the considerable good work he started.”

    That comment stuck with me….

    Have you considered attending a site or safety committee meeting (spring is a good time since they are winding up the planning process) to see if much has really changed at BHS. Listen carefully to the parents comments and questions.

  • bingo

    don’t forget to double up the tinfoil when you make your hat–otherwise the longer wavelength crazy rays get in.

  • Another reader

    Many homeless people are veterans, often with mental disabilities caused by their service, and until this country manages to help them effectively we can hardly complain if they beg on our sidewalks. Also, as the other reader points out, how do you know the guy has been sitting on the sidewalk?

  • guest

    those who refuse help deserve no sympathy

  • guest

    What a lame personal attack. Surely you can do better than this.

  • You stated the abesolute truth. People do not like to shop where people are sleeping and living on the sidewalk. Fact is, people like to shop where they have a high comfort level, free of conflict. While in a store with my wife, a homeless man came in a took a paper bag. He yelled and cursed at the store clerk after being told that the bag was 10 cents. He continued to yell at the store clerk while leaving. The point is, my wife and other family members do not shop on Shattuck, and other locations where vagrants are. I realize that many people will disagree with me, but the fact is many other people feel the same way, and they are taking their business to conflict free areas.

  • Mbfarrel

    If he is the fellow I’m thinking of, who recently appeared in my neighborhood wearing full camo with a “homeless vet” sign… I think he was checking himself into the mental health system the best way he knew how.

  • PragmaticProgressive

    All too true

  • PragmaticProgressive

    Veterans are 12% of the homeless in alameda county, which is somewhat shy of “many.” Most of the problems with street people stem from the sub population for whom it is a lifestyle choice and who refuse treatment and services. And so, following your reasoning, the complaints are justified.

  • angemon3690

    gripe gripe gripe gripe gripe

  • guest

    Go troll somewhere else, David.

  • bgal4

    david who? what is this guy’s agenda?


  • Bill N

    I noticed the same thing and thought – my it’s quite, where are all the students? Then I saw the police pick up some guy on King next to the Tire Store – but it probably wasn’t connected

  • Bill N

    and, again, what do you think of what’s happening now and how its being handled?

  • bgal4

    It depends on the topic, civic center park, academics, school safety generally, attendance/truancy?

    and honestly, the amount of hate heap on me makes it a challenge to speak openly. If you truly are interested I could dialog personally with you.

  • guest

    Check reddit. This guy is a self-professed troll who doesn’t live anywhere near Berkeley.

  • bgal4

    thx, I guess the mods need to up their game. Any benefits from this online dialog are quickly lost to this nonsense.

  • Bill N

    Specifically school safety.

  • bgal4

    ok, I will try and answer that later, but back to bed with me, down with the flu.

  • guestBHS

    bgal4 and the work she has done is more likely to save your kid’s life at BHS than Slemp or Sucuderi ever did, or even imagined.

  • guest

    Yawn. Our town’s full of folks with $20 words who cry about not having bus fare.

  • guest

    It’s comforting to know at least one mind is focused on student safety at BHS. Those with short (or no) memory forget Slemp’s act as the Great White Father, protector of the FFA – Future Felons of America! With a security chief who forged checks and grew dope he managed to ice the BPD out of our school. Scuderi was a bit player in the admin tapped because he was unlikely to make waves. He hasn’t. The rest of Slemp’s “legacy” remains firmly in place.

  • bgal4

    thx for the funny and wise summary :)

  • EBGuy

    Did you catch her gem about the zip ties a couple of threads back? LM never fails to surprise and deliver a piece of info you won’t find elsewhere.

  • guest

    El Cerrito.

    Don’t want to live there, but it’s a more pleasant experience than downtown Berkeley.