Crime

2 women charged after Berkeley stun gun robberies

Police arrested two woman linked to three robberies on a single day earlier this month. Image: Google Maps

Berkeley Police arrested two women linked to three robberies on a single day earlier this month. Image: Google Maps

Police arrested two women after a pair of robberies, one of which involved a stun gun, and a robbery attempt also involving a stun gun earlier this month in Berkeley.

On Sept. 15, police said in court documents that the two women, along with a third accomplice, zapped a woman in the neck with a stun gun after convincing her to let them borrow her phone to make a call. At 2:10 p.m., the victim had been walking in the 2500 block of Parker Street, near Telegraph Avenue, when two young women approached her and asked if they could use her phone to call for a ride.

According to court documents, the woman let them use the phone. But, when she asked for it back, they told her they would not return it. One of the robbers then walked up to her and “zapped her on the front of the neck with a stun gun.” They fled and the victim chased them to a waiting Yellow Volkswagen Beetle convertible. Police said the victim then fought with the person who took her phone, and the driver took off with the victim “hanging out of the window.” When the victim could no longer hold on, she fell to the roadway, wrote police, but she was able to grab the stun gun and pull off the watch from the robber’s wrist.

Earlier that day, shortly after 10 a.m., a woman at Ellsworth and Russell streets, near Telegraph and Ashby Avenue, reported that she had been running when three black females she did not know approached her from behind. “She felt one of them touching the back of her neck,” police wrote. Another one tried to grab the victim’s cell phone from her hand; police said she resisted, and “one of the women slapped her in the face.” She ran away and the women fled the area.

Then, just before 2 p.m., a woman and her friend were walking near Benvenue Avenue and Woolsey Street near College Avenue. They saw three black females talking at the northwest corner of the intersection, police wrote. After the walkers passed, one of the women “ran up to [the victim], bumped into her, and stole her iPhone 4 mobile phone from her rear shorts pocket.”

On Sept. 22, a Berkeley Police officer spotted a yellow Volkswagen Beetle, which had been described in a “wanted” flyer, at Alcatraz Avenue and Adeline Street in South Berkeley. The officer stopped the car and spoke with the driver, 20-year-old Margaretta Williams, and passenger Rushonda Lincoln, 18, of Oakland.

Police said Lincoln “took responsibility for her actions” in the Ellsworth and Parker robberies, and said Williams had used the stun gun in the Parker Street incident. According to court documents, the women had tried to use the stun gun in the Ellsworth incident, but it had malfunctioned.

Both women were charged with four felonies: attempted second degree robbery, two counts of second degree robbery, and assault with a stun gun or Taser. No information was available as of press time regarding the third accomplice, but she did not appear to be in the custody of the Alameda County sheriff’s department.

Williams and Lincoln are scheduled for a pre-trial hearing Monday, Sept. 30, at the Wiley W. Manuel Courthouse in downtown Oakland. They remain in custody at Santa Rita Jail, Williams with a bail of $155,000 and Lincoln with a bail of $105,000.

Related:
Oakland parolee charged after 2 robberies in Berkeley (09.24.13)
Berkeley pedestrian robberies up 35%, burglaries up too (09.17.13)
Op-Ed: We need to be able to walk our streets and not be afraid (08.21.13)
2 arrested after UC Berkeley campus robbery, 2 at-large (07.18.13)
Police seek 3 after armed robbery on Warring Street (06.25.13)

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  • oldapeman

    Good job to the BPD officers who investigated and followed up, leading to these arrests. However, this story is not as useful as it needs to be without pictures of the admitted perpetrators. Berkeleyside needs to put greater pressure on BPD to release mugshots. There is no excuse for them to be withheld. The photos are public information, gathered by a public governmental unit. We deserve to know.

  • theDeer

    whaaaat? ugh! those locations are where my teen and all her friends walk all the time. (when we visit town, that is) (“ex-pats”)

  • emraguso

    This is something we are regularly talking about with BPD. So far we have not been able to make headway.

  • 1000 words?

    Have you asked BPD to articulate why they don’t fuel this particular fire? Also, why does “oldapeman” think these mugshots are so “useful as it needs to be”? What is the utilitarian argument here?

  • emraguso

    Yes, we have. It’s an on-going conversation but I may see if we can publish a piece from BPD to explain the rationale. Your other questions are worth asking as well. So noted. Thanks.

  • EBGuy

    Were the police able to ‘trace’ the stun gun? I was nosing around the Taser website after West Bezerkeley posted the link last week. They seem to put a decent amount of effort into making sure criminals (well, felons) can’t purchase their product. Impressive that the victim was able to wrest the stun gun from the perpetrators.

  • norgedane

    Tasers require a background check prior to purchase. Furthermore, a Taser purchased by a civilian will be disabled within an hour after use. To get it re-activated, the registered owner must produce a numbered police Report. Taser then authenticates the report (yes, for a fee) and turns it back on. Ask me how I know.

    These women were in possession of a swap meet (or head shop) stun gun, which are very dangerous (unregulated voltage) and leave nasty burns. Also, they tend not to work reliably, as was stated in the article.

  • emraguso

    I was just quoting the court document — I didn’t feel I could read into it beyond that, as we didn’t get any information from police.

  • bgal4

    Actually I bet the cops or DA wrote it up that way, second chances for the tenth time.

  • oldapeman

    emraguso, thank you for pushing BPD on this. 1000words, the “utility” here of publishing a picture of the criminals may not be obvious to you, but it is to me. We rely upon the free press to give us access to information that we are entitled to know. We are entitled to know those criminals among us, and publishing a name is not sufficiently useful. It would be rare to be able to match the name with a person we might run across as we go about our daily life. A picture is a better, more complete identification that we can use in deciding who to be friendly with, or who to avoid or watch out for. No one has the right to promise the criminals anonymity. Quite the opposite, they must answer to the public for their crimes. The public has a right to know. They are going to be prosecuted in the name of “The People” of our community.

    Now, it would be a further improvement if we can get a change in the law so it allows disclosure of names and pictures of juveniles charged with serious felonies. Public scorn and shunning is a fair and reasonable part of their punishment.

  • Woolsey

    Mr. Jahton Green appeared to have a career of mugging, and sometimes killing, elderly folks in Berkeley. It was his specialty. He got at least 10 (allegedly) before being arrested for his latest two victims. It would have been very useful to have his picture circulating so that we could be on the watch out for him.

  • tired…

    Wait a minute, are you saying that the law banning stun guns in berkeley didn’t stop people from using one to rob people? (which by the way is also against the law in berkeley). More laws rarely are the answer…

  • SwD

    it’s called exposure……don’t ya know…psychologically ‘it’ has an affect on other’s that are either contemplating, or willfully committing similar crimes, and makes those accountable to society, by allowing all to see ‘who’ are perps…don’t ya know….

  • SwD

    kudos to the victim that fought back…hope any injuries are healed quickly, and any lost possessions returned…though the reporting did not indicate such

  • Truth Sayer

    Actually, fighting them for a phone was not wise. As, she did not know if one of them had a knife or other weapon. letting them go and identifying the car and the robbers would be the best course of action. A phone is just not worth being injured by thugs.

  • Brad Johnson

    I disagree. In America we are innocent until proven guilty. Publishing photos of the *accused* can cause great harm and presumes guilt.

    I hope Berkeleyside considers this and does not publish photos of those who are simply accused.

    And personally I can’t understand the utility. I’ve been reading BPD neighborhood reports for some years, and they never say “stay away from people who look like what you think a criminal probably looks like.” They say “lock your doors” and “pay attention to your surroundings.”

  • bgal4

    In America, mugshots and arrest information is public information.

  • SwD

    Wise, as in ?… she did not obviously stop, and ponder about that aspect, as she used her intuition, and her right to live, walk,and talk as we all should be able to do without being mugged. To many today stand around while others are mugged, or worse maimed, all while worrying that the perp ‘might’ do this, or that’…., so the hypothisis of ‘could of , should of, or would of is not relevant…Are we too live in fear, not stand up for ourselves based on ….what no violence? It is not the perrceived value of the phone, it is the principal of being acosted in a so-called safe family oriented neighborhood. Stand up for your rights is the theme here.

  • oldapeman

    I believe we are each capable of distinguishing between someone being accused, and admitting guilt or being convicted. Each situation is different, and we can and should decide how to treat an accused. Also, “innocent until proven guilty” only applies in court. We, as members of society, are not bound to that restriction when we interact with others. Example: The late Michael Jackson was accused of child molestation, but never convicted. Do you think that parents must ignore the accusations and other evidence when they decide whether to allow their children to accept an invitation to sleep over at his house? He was “innocent until proven guilty” in the eyes of the law, but not in the eyes of society at large. We could not punish him, but we could avoid him.

  • Doug F

    A stun gun is quite a wimpy weapon. I used to carry one for self-defense. I accidentally zapped my forearm & back with it, once each. It was only mildly painful, & in no way interfered with my neural or muscular function. (While someone zapped with a Taser is unlikely to stay standing.) If someone threatens you with one in a robbery attempt & you don’t see a knife or gun, my advice is to knock it out of their hand, kick them in the crotch & stomp on their instep, hard. Then grab the stun gun & zap them in some painful location, like a cheek. .

    If you want something effective for self-defense, carry pepper spray. I ended a fight on the bus with it instantly one time.

  • PragmaticProgressive

    You go too far. It’s innocent until proven guilty, not invisible until proven guilty.

  • Truth Sayer

    You can dance around all the rights and principles of standing up for oneself, but what she did was not wise. Any police officer would agree with me. It must be remembered that thugs do not hold the lives of victims sacred; and her life is worth more than the principle you are fond of. Most assuredly, she possessed no weapon, and was not aware that the hoodlums did not have a gun or knife. I certainly hope that other weaponless citizens do not take your bravado to heart and attempt to rescue their iPhone from muggers.

  • Truth Sayer

    I now understand the concept, and facts as you outlined. I agree with you.

  • norgedane

    Might have been a questionable use of that pepper spray.

    Also, criminals don’t come in one flavor. They range from the down-on-their luck and desperate (the popular myth) to sociopathic misanthropes under the influence of multiple drugs who enjoy hurting people but won’t be feeling pain themselves.

    So if you decide to fight, fight as if your life is at stake. That stranger danger poppycock about stomping their instep is gonna get your face kicked in with their good foot if you haven’t decided to do REAL AND PERMANENT DAMAGE the second after you’re faced with a threat of violence you can justify a (possibly pre-emptive) violent response to while under oath.

    I hope that this comment survives moderation, but violence against ANYONE (even a criminal–ESPECIALLY a criminal) is a choice you need to weigh carefully BEFORE you’re sinking to the level of your training in a crisis–whatever that training may be.

  • Doug F

    “Questionable use”? [...] Two huge teen hoods on the bus started beating up one small teen boy who hadn’t said or done ANYTHING, for the sole reason that they were [...] black [...] & he was white. And they had kept it up, bouncing off seats & other passengers all over the bus, for over a minute by the time I could get a clear shot with the pepper spray. They immediately remembered urgent hood business elsewhere & rushed off the bus, leaving the kid with a bleeding face but no serious injuries. And you’re saying I shouldn’t have stopped this?

    [This comment has been moderated. -Eds.]

  • SwD

    Living in FEAR is exactly what Thugs, Government, and many Religious sects want you to do…..Congratulations, as it seems you are well equiped fo a leadership role….

  • SwD

    Kudos to you , and No Doug…what you did was what more of Society in general needs to do in these situations…
    TOO MANY FEAR based individuals will watch,laugh(with FEAR) film, post to YT, or other Media sources,and comment of these cowardly acts, while others pooped their respective pants thinking ‘what if’ scenarios…..FEAR is why Thugs, Government, and Religious sects prey on ‘WEAK, sedentary, sit behind a computer all day’ types….not until it happens to oneself, or a family member do then people seem to get a clue…..

  • Truth Sayer

    My ideal is learned and based upon my military and federal police experience. The bottom line; it is stupid to fight two thugs for a phone without any weapons, and have no knowledge of their weapons or capability. You don’t go to a gunfight with a fork. And, in her case, she had nothing. Thugs don’t care if they hurt or kill for a phone. You speak of fear like it is associate with cowardness. Fear keeps people from doing stupid things which could cause injury or death. It reminds us to lock our doors at night and not go to unsafe places. It’s apparent that you have never been in an extremely dangerous situation. Otherwise, you would know and understand why she should not have confronted her attackers.

  • norgedane

    as bgal said, intervening in two person’s victimization of another is different than intervening in mutual combat (“a fight”). If I engage you any more, I’m pretty sure you’ll make reference to how one of the huge black thugs beating on a small person of (no) color brandished a plasma rifle in the 40W range as the bus pulled out of the stop. One other thing to remember in the pepper spray vs. stun gun deliberation is the 2nd order effects of discharging pepper spray in an enclosed space. But you’re a brave weapons and martial arts expert so I won’t trouble you with the criminal and civil implications, which your status as something other than a sworn peace officer will make real interesting. But hey, as a skinny little kid who learned to fight by getting his A$$ kicked daily on AC Transit busses in the 70s and 80s, I thank you for your bravery.