A man in his 20s was shot twice in the chest in West Berkeley around 5:40 p.m. Sunday, and has died of his wounds, according to friends and neighbors.
Berkeley Police spokeswoman Officer Jennifer Coats confirmed at 9:30 p.m. that there had been shooting, that the victim was taken to the hospital, and that he was pronounced dead after he arrived there. She said police were still at Eighth and Camelia, where officers were canvassing for evidence and speaking with witnesses. Homicide detectives were on scene, and the roadway on Eighth south of Camelia remains closed off during the investigation, she said. She said police are not releasing any further details at this time.
The man, who is reported to have attended Berkeley High School, was said by several who knew him to be visiting friends in an apartment near Eighth and Camelia just before the shooting. Neighborhood residents said he was shot near a church on Camelia, then ran through an alley onto Page Street west of Eighth. He ran to a neighbor’s door to ask for help, but then collapsed on the ground, according to witnesses. The victim called out, “Help me, somebody, help me,” according to a woman who came across him on her way to the grocery store, but asked not to be named. “He looked so scared,” she said.
Berkeley police said they chased down suspects to two locations, one on Kains and Gilman Street and one on Eighth Street near Camelia. Shortly after 8 p.m., a Berkeley Police officer said one person had been detained, and police were still at both Kains Avenue, north of Gilman, and Eighth, south of Camelia, where suspects were believed by police to have been cornered.
The victim, whose identity has not been released officially but whom many in the neighborhood said was a long-time resident in his 20s with two children, was taken to an area hospital. Two different friends of his received calls just before 8 p.m. that the man had died.
Neighbors said they had seen the man running, and heard more than 10 gunshots before the victim collapsed. They said the neighborhood is normally a calm place.
Other neighbors said the violence was the result of a lack of jobs or meaningful programs for young men to help keep them out of trouble. One friend of the victim said that, due to a lack of economic opportunities, many young residents are forced to “hustle” to make a living, which can lead to problems.
He described the neighborhood as close-knit, and said he’d just seen the victim the prior night. He described the victim as “a jokester” and “a good-hearted dude” with two children, adding that “everybody’s got their ways of doing things, but we all do what we gotta do to survive.” Some in the neighborhood have turned to dealing drugs to pay their utility bills or help support their families, he said. “Everybody has a dream but it doesn’t always work out how they planned.”
“Either they’re doing something to each other, or police are doing something to them,” said another man, Todd Walker, who lives in the area. Though homicides aren’t common in the neighborhood, he said, “If it’s one, it’s too many.”
Walker, who works at a funeral home, said it’s tough to be in the position of “getting this end where we have to bury them.” He said he recalled five young men over the last four months who have been shot. “There’s no programs for these kids,” he continued.
Thursday’s shooting is Berkeley’s fourth homicide of the year. On Aug. 1, 24-year-old Dustin Bynum was shot and killed outside Bing’s Liquors in the 1800 block of San Pablo Ave. On Feb. 4, Zontee Jones was shot on Delaware Street, across San Pablo Avenue less than a block away from Bing’s Liquors. Jevon Calland and Maurice Thomas Jr. have been charged with murder in that case.
On July 17, Jermaine Davis was shot and killed on Derby Street near Martin Luther King Jr. Way. No one has been arrested in that case.
In 2010, Berkeley Police shot and killed a man they said pulled a gun on them at the same apartment complex on Eighth that police had cordoned off Sunday night. The man had been chased into Berkeley by Albany Police officers at roughly 11 p.m. Authorities said he got out from his car on San Pablo Avenue near Jones Street, and ran a few blocks to Eighth and Camelia. After he pulled a weapon, a sergeant and veteran officer from the Berkeley Police Department opened fire, authorities said.
[Editor’s Note: This story developed throughout the evening and was updated multiple times as more information became available.]
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