Robbery attempt led to Medearis killing; 2 charged

Anthony Medearis III

Anthony Medearis III

A robbery gone awry after a dice game in West Berkeley left one man dead and a child with a bullet wound to the face in early September, according to court documents released Tuesday afternoon by authorities.

Police have charged an Oakland man with the Sept. 8 murder of Anthony Medearis III, and say the man was also responsible for the shooting that killed 8-year-old Alaysha Carradine at a slumber party in Oakland on July 17.

Authorities say the Carradine killing was retribution for the homicide in South Berkeley earlier that same day of Jermaine Davis, who has been tied to Berkeley’s Waterfront gang.

On Tuesday, authorities announced that two Oakland men, 27-year-old Joseph Carroll Jr. and 22-year-old Darnell Williams Jr., are believed to be responsible for Carradine’s death. Carroll, said police, is the cousin of Jermaine Davis. (His brother, 23-year-old Coleon Carroll, is currently in jail facing charges along with a second defendant for the shooting death of Gary Ferguson Jr. in Berkeley in 2010. The Carroll brothers have been reported by authorities to be ringleaders in the West Berkeley-based Waterfront gang.)

But Medearis’ shooting in Berkeley in September does not appear to be, authorities said, a gang killing.

According to court documents, Williams was at a dice game in Berkeley on Sept. 8 with his 7-year-old nephew when he “decided to rob another male present” at the game, in the 1400 block of Eighth Street at Camelia Street. At 5:35 p.m., police wrote that Williams texted 28-year-old Laquana Nuno to say he was “about to commit a robbery,” and asked her to come pick him up. Nuno agreed, police said.

At 5:40 p.m., police said Williams tried to rob Medearis, and shot at him in the process: “Medearis attempted to flee,” but Williams chased him “and continued to shoot at him.” Medearis was struck by a bullet in the torso. He was taken to Highland Hospital for treatment but was later pronounced dead from his injuries.

Williams’ 7-year-old nephew was also shot during the robbery attempt. Police wrote that a bullet fragment was embedded beneath the boy’s left eye; he was treated at a hospital and medical staff removed the fragment.

After the shooting, police wrote that Williams tried to flee the area on foot. Officers responded to the scene quickly, posing an obstacle to his escape, according to court documents. Williams called Nuno several times to arrange a pick-up. They eventually managed to meet up, after 6 p.m., but police in the area tried to stop the vehicle. There was a short car chase, then police said Nuno pulled over to let Williams out of the car.

He fled on foot and Nuno drove away; police eventually found Williams hiding in a nearby shed, and arrested him in the 1200 block of Kains Avenue. Police noted in their report that Williams had been convicted in 2010 in Alameda County for assault with a deadly weapon.

Williams has been in custody since Sept. 8, held on parole violation, but was not charged with the Berkeley killing until Tuesday. Berkeley Police had previously said they had no updates in the case that they could release, and did not respond to multiple requests for information Tuesday.

Berkeley links to Oakland killing

The charges became public Tuesday when Alameda County law enforcement authorities and officials announced the results of their investigation into the high-profile killing of 8-year-old Alaysha Carradine on July 17.

According to court documents, the shooting that killed Carradine, which also wounded two children and their grandmother, was retaliation for a shooting that same day in Berkeley that killed Jermaine Davis.

Police wrote that Davis was killed just before 7 p.m. in the 1800 block of Derby Street: “Friends, family, and associates of Davis quickly focused their attention on an adult male … who they believed killed Davis.”

The man who was targeted in the subsequent attack is identified only as “John Doe” in court documents. Police said that Davis’ cousin Carroll, Williams — who was identified by police as a friend of Davis — and other unnamed coconspirators met up at a home in East Oakland, then “armed themselves with firearms.”

Police said the group then determined that “John Doe’s” children and their mother lived in the 3400 block of Wilson Avenue. At 11:10 p.m., police said Williams rang the doorbell on Wilson Avenue. He waited outside, pointing a firearm at the door, according to authorities. As the children began to open the door, he fired numerous shots at them, then fled the area. Police said Williams later admitted to witnesses that he committed the shooting.

That same night, police said Carroll went to the home of “John Doe’s” mother in Antioch, where he hid outside and waited for John Doe. Carroll ultimately confronted the man at a gas station in Antioch; no further information about that interaction was provided.

Police said Carroll, Williams and others “continued their attempts to locate and kill John Doe” after the shooting in Oakland.

A history with gang ties

In July 2009, Joseph Carroll and his younger brother, Coleon, were arrested along with a third man as part of a sweep of five Bay Area cities in a coordinated crackdown on gang violence in the East Bay. Police said at the time that the three men were “ringleaders” of the Waterfront Gang, so named since they lived near the water and were linked to many violent crimes.

In recent times, little information has been available from the Berkeley Police Department regarding gang activity within the city. But, in 2009, a series of high-profile shootings between Waterfront gang members and members of a North Oakland gang brought the issue into the public eye.

Jermaine Davis, via YouTube.

Jermaine Davis, via YouTube.

One of the incidents involved a car chase after a shooting that killed Davis’ brother, Charles, who was known to friends as “Chill”; two bystanders were killed during the chase, and authorities said that it was, in fact, Jermaine Davis who had been the intended target in that shooting. Jermaine Davis was killed in July shortly after a jury handed down murder charges in connection with the 2009 incident, though a family friend said he did not believe Davis’ shooting was retaliation for that verdict. According to people who knew him, Davis had turned away from the gang lifestyle and was focusing more on helping keep his family’s younger generation in line.

The Alameda County district attorney’s office has charged Williams and Carroll with murder and attempted murder in the Oakland case.

Williams and Nuno have been charged with murder in the killing of Medearis. Nuno has also been charged as an accessory after the fact for allegedly trying to help Williams escape from police after the robbery attempt and shooting.

Authorities said Tuesday in a prepared statement that Oakland Police Department homicide investigators partnered with the department’s gang unit, as well as the Berkeley Police Department, the state Department of Justice and the district attorney’s office, to conduct a long-term investigation into the Carradine case.

During the investigation, said authorities, Oakland investigators also developed information that several related suspects were conspiring to commit an additional murder, which officials said the department was able to prevent.

This week in West Berkeley, officials and members of religious and community groups have planned a public procession to speak out against violence and recognize several of this year’s homicide victims, including Anthony Medearis.

‘Ceasefire Walk Against Violence’ comes to West Berkeley (10.01.13)
Relatives remember Berkeley shooting victim ‘Lil Tone’ (09.10.13)
Man dies after shooting in West Berkeley (09.08.13)
Murdered man was brother of man killed by gangs in 2009 (07.18.13)
Breaking: Man shot and killed on Derby Street in Berkeley (07.17.13)
Berkeley community remembers teen slain in Oakland (05.08.13)
Berkeley police make second arrest in murder (11.01.10)
Shooting on Alcatraz Avenue (10.30.10)
Berkeley police arrest man suspected of murder (10.28.10)

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  • Alina

    Thank you for reporting. This tragic story has many players and goes back to 2009 (maybe earlier?)… I think I need a diagram or at least a timeline to be able to follow it.

  • guest

    A complicated modern version of a Greek tragedy minus the literary value. Killing your friend with an 7 year-old nephew in tow? Killing an 8 year-old girl? Texting your girl to be an accessory to murder? There is no humanity in this gang of gangsters, and no honor among these thieves.

  • TN

    One point that these ugly events illustrate is that a very small, interconnected coterie of people are responsible for a very large portion of the violence we see in my neighborhood in West Berkeley.

    This tells me that any intervention strategy has to be tightly focused on identifying the few people apt to become involved as both perpetrators and victims. Programs that purport to serve all “youths,” while they may be worthwhile on their own merits, may not be concentrated enough to affect the level of violence.

  • me

    Just because he left doesn’t mean people wont act in their own way. Have a seat dont speak on the dead. Thank you God bless

  • Chris J

    Wow. This is crazy, but I recognize one of the alleged murderers’ names, and if it was the same kid I’m thinking lived in our neighborhood a dozen years ago, his mother was a crack user, occasionally turned tricks to pay the bills, ran an electric cord from the neighbor’s house when the power got turned off, and I remember the kid bicycling in the neighborhood, uncared for by his mother, barely attended to by his older siblings. He seemed a sweet, skinny little kid, and all this… All this just shows how a lousy environment can shape our youth into killers.

    It’s not an excuse for the actions, but this kid’s upbringing shows how a child can be led or ignored and end up running an ultra-violent street gang. I always wondered what happened to the family after they were more or less kicked out of the neighborhood, the children put into social services, and restraining orders implemented keeping them away.

    Now the house has been cleaned up, sold, and a nice family of four are living now in a house that once dealt with prostitution and crack dealing. Things get better for some, not for others.

  • bgal4

    Great job telling the story Emilie and showing some of the linkages. I recognize all from numerous past crimes and gangster shooting sprees. People make too many damn excuses for these murderers.

  • bgal4

    Much earlier.

  • DisGuested

    Pathos is not tragedy.

  • PragmaticProgressive

    So why is the not very successful 2020 Vision program our priority with its diffuse attempt to impact a national issue? We should instead have a focused, comprehensive Promise Neighborhood like the one in Hayward, based on the Harlem Children’s Zone.

  • Berkeleyborn123

    The whole chain of events is tragic. The interconnectness of many involved is not surprising and may be a measurable risk factor to be used in prevention of future violence-some interesting work done on social networks and your likelihood of being shot is here at Atlantic Monthly

  • Thanks for digging into these matters Emilie. With stories like these, you are helping to knock down the official wall of denial about gangs if Berkeley.

    The official city line used to be that Berkeley didn’t have gangs until neighborhood watch pressed the city HARD for some honesty on the subject. Stories like this one tell the truth about what’s happening in West and South Berkeley and help to everyone see beyond the wall of silence from BPD an the City Council about a festering gang problem that is decades old.

    Keep digging & keep up the pressure. Neighborhood watch isn’t enough to change the reality of gang crime Berkeley. To change the status quo in Berkeley requires wider public outrage and that only comes from investigative reporting so people in N. Berkeley and the Hills understand what is happening down here in the flatlands. Keep up the good reporting.

  • oceanview neighbor

    I gave this comment a thumbs up because of your compliment to Emilie not because of your last sentence.

  • Guest

    But the people who acted “in their own way” are, it would seem, gang members and Davis’s friends and/or associates. That certainly implies that Davis was indeed associated with gang activity; since there probably isn’t a membership card with annual dues, we have to use the clues that are available. If you disagree, then tell us precisely why.

    As for the “dont speak on the dead” remark: if it will help some guy stay out or get out of the gang life, or encourage others to speak up against the thugs, then speaking on this particular dead serves a useful purpose. After all, what kind of person murders a child as a way to get justice? The people who did that were, it appears, Jermaine Davis’s friends – what does that say about Davis?

    Your attitude sounds just like the “pay no attention- it’s just something that happened – stay out of it and mind your own business” line that crops up in the comments on these senseless killings. We won’t go along with that.

  • Chris

    I’m pretty sure everyone should have, and voice, an opinion when bullets are flying in our city.

  • Marvey Hilk

    Let’s send a sympathetic and loving prayer for the community in West Berkeley.

  • bgal4
  • bgal4

    exactly, and because BOCA and city political leaders refuse to properly define the PATHOS the violence will only worsen.

  • bgal4

    First off the violence is far more widespread than just your neighborhood, these murderers kill in Richmond, Antioch, Vallejo, Oakland when the need arising. Second, the numbers are not small, what this recent incident explains is that society’s failure to suppress gang activity means that the latest generation has no respect for any former boundaries or so-called street rules. They will shoot up a memorial or funeral and now target children and uninvolved family members in retaliation. The enemy is the politicians who refuse to acknowledge and react to gang violence and the unaccountable organizations like BOCA who feed off government incompetence.

  • bgal4

    OK, so go hug a thug and see how much good that does.

  • bgal4
  • Chris

    Agreed. Your reporting, and related ability to credibly connect these dots, is really impressive!

  • oceanview neighbor

    There will be no hugging of thugs. I guess my point was how the hell does some kid whose upbringing includes relatives who are crack sellers & addicts, murderers etc.stand a chance? It’s more the collateral damage I was talking about, not the “thugs”.

  • bgal4

    As long as family unification at all cost is the social service policy the kids who refer to are essentially incarcerated in homes of dysfunctional and addiction often so horrific you wonder how CPS decided to leave these poor kids with their abusive mother.

    I have taken the time many times to report child abuse, educational neglect etc to various agencies responsible for child welfare and mostly the response has been a bunch of lame excuses.

    Bring back orphanages, they have better outcomes than foster care.

  • Great video…and now I need to pick up that copy of the Atlantic sitting on my coffee table and read the related article.

  • guest

    But they aren’t orphans.

  • guest

    might as well be.