Shots fired early Saturday near West Berkeley park

Shots were fired after police responded to Strawberry  Creek Park in central Berkeley for reports of a gun early Saturday morning. Image: Google Maps

Shots were fired after police responded to Strawberry Creek Park in Berkeley for reports of a gun early Saturday morning. Image: Google Maps

The sound of numerous gunshots early Saturday morning woke Berkeley residents around University Avenue and Bonar Street shortly before 1 a.m., leaving many with questions about what had happened.

Berkeley Police Lt. Dave Frankel said a caller near Strawberry Creek Park had reported a group of males in the park who were talking about a gun.

Police responded to Strawberry Creek to investigate whether there was a weapon and to enforce the park’s operating hours. (It closes at 10 p.m.)

When police arrived, many of the people in the park fled, said Frankel. Police detained a small group of them, but ultimately released them with citations related to being in the park after dark because no weapon was found and no other violations were noted.

Police believe one member of that group may then have gotten into a late 90s four-door silver Honda and drove off. As he drove, the driver stuck a gun out of the window and fired shots into the air.

An officer who was arriving on scene as the driver was firing into the air began to chase the driver along Seventh Street to Parker. The officer ceased pursuit of the vehicle, as it approached Ashby at nearly 100mph, in the interest of public safety.

No one was injured as a result of the shooting, no accidents took place, and officers recovered shell casings at the scene.

The investigation is on-going, said Frankel.

He said police have identified Strawberry Creek Park as an area that is occasionally frequented by Berkeley-based gang members, and that there are often gang-related graffiti and tags marking the area.

Related:
Berkeley residents tackle safety issues after shootings (03.21.12)
Community meeting called in wake of Berkeley shootings (03.13.12)
Three men shot, wounded early Sunday in West Berkeley (03.05.12)
Three people shot on Bonar St., no life-threatening injuries (03.02.12)

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  • multiple shootings = proof

    I’m skeptical that you could tell us what percentage of Section 8 tenancies are completely free and clear of any involvement in criminal activity. Yet it is on the basis of that stereotype that you are attacking anyone who points out that low income housing complexes in Berkeley are frequently associated with crime.

  • enough excuses, please

    It’s always someone else’s fault, isn’t it?

  • guest

    That seems like the argument *against* Section 8 – that it spreads crime into formerly low-density, low-crime areas.

  • guest

    All of it is happening within spitting distance of low-income housing with a significant number of Section 8 tenants. Should not be a surprise if you have been here long. These specific spots have always been trouble because of this.

  • bgal4

    Casa Latina is hosting the organizing meeting for 40 Acres to fight the city’s order to cease and desist.

  • Chris

    Thanks for the information. I know exactly which business (in my neighborhood) won’t be getting any additional patronage from me.

  • Just Sayin

    In addition to the problem tenants on Bonar, AND lack of police presence in the park, there’s a maintenance/infrastructure problem where Allston Way meets Strawberry Creek Park. Insufficient lighting, shrubbery that blocks clear lines of sight/light, a large garbage dumpster that ‘welcomes’ people to the park, etc. It needs to be improved for better visibility day and night.

  • bgal4

    The park has design flaws which result in providing cover for criminal activity. Visibility is critical to policing parks in gang areas.

  • enough poverty bashing, please

    The incentive to sell drugs and guns is fast $$$, and a laziness to do menial work.

    The number of involuntarily unemployed people in this country is extraordinarily high. You seem to believe that a lot people are refusing to take jobs that don’t exist.

    In any event, my understanding is not complicated.

    I agree: The rules of Section 8 make housing less secure for recipients than for other tenants. Also, the rules of Section 8 remove some released felons from eligibility, contributing to the housing insecurity of released felons generally.

    The rules of Section 8 provide a tool for neighbors to try to force some other neighbors out whether it is on the grounds of ineligible off-lease residents or some criminal activity. You mentioned (by address, even) two households you went after this way.

    I don’t believe that increasing housing insecurity for released felons or poor people are good ways to reduce crime but those are the policies in place and the incentives they create.

    I also agree: Demand for Section 8 assistance greatly exceeds supply and long waiting lists exist. Individual efforts and public policies that step up policing and removal of residents who err frees up units.

    To me, everyone’s motivations in this picture are perfectly understandable and unsurprising. Nevertheless, it seems to me a terribly dysfunctional system.

    Meanwhile, a news story about individual bad actors near this report of shots fired has turned in the comments into a small but insistent group launching an attack on Section 8 recipients and poor people generally — an unjustified, hateful reaction that serves to stigmatize and reinforce the overall dysfunction of our inadequate social welfare programs.

  • bgal4

    right…. you think the families living nearby should tolerate gangsters threats on a Sunday afternoon to shoot and kill this punk for dealing on their turf.

  • guest

    Drone = remote control helicopter with camera.

    Not a big deal.

  • safe neighborhoods, please

    The rules of Section 8 provide a tool for neighbors to try to force some
    other neighbors out whether it is on the grounds of ineligible
    off-lease residents or some criminal activity.

    Being able to remove residents who are breaking the law is not a bad thing. It is too bad it is not easier to get rid of non-Section-8 residents who are breaking the law.

  • Disappointed with Casa Latina.

    I agree. Bought some burritos and pastries from them yesterday but it looks like I will be boycotting them now. I do not wish to patronize any business that supports a Bad Neighbor Business like 40 Acres.

    Good thing La Mission is not that far away.

    http://www.yelp.com/biz/la-mission-berkeley

  • safe, sure, but how best?

    Being able to remove residents who are breaking the law is not a bad thing. It is too bad it is not easier to get rid of non-Section-8 residents who are breaking the law.

    I can’t agree to such a sweeping generalization. I think it depends on the individual situation such as the type of crime and the range of possible alternative responses.

    As it stands now, we tend to segregate and ghettoize the poor including ex-felons. We’re maintaining a record-setting high rate of incarceration. We’re inadequately provisioning educational and social welfare programs. We sanctify a form of global capitalism and finance that swindles the poor at every opportunity while denying them viable employment (meanwhile destroying the environment).

    Then we act all surprised when, in racially biased ways, family structures decay over generations and criminal predation becomes a persistent problem. Oh, and, also, this dubious approach is bankrupting us and we can’t even afford the level of policing needed to sustain it.

    So, no, I think blanket statements about wanting to kick lawbreakers out of their homes are probably not the most helpful.

  • guest

    good for munchies

  • guest

    Interesting that Allston between San Pablo and Byron St. and San Pablo about half a block North and South of Allston do not appear in Google StreetView, and as far as I know never have.

  • suckatash

    Next time I’m there I will ask them why the hell they would do such a thing. Is there a business relationship beyond the obvious “stoners like burritos”?

  • A token of thanks

    Thank you. wanted to add something beyond an “up vote”. Sorry I don’t have the energy to chime in more fully in your defense, but didn’t want you to feel to disheartened. The inability of people around this comments section to separate correlation from causation even when dealing with ugly things is so sad. No one likes criminals, but just because a crime rate goes from 0.1% to 0.2% (double!) between identifiable groups of people does not mean that the identification you have latched onto makes any sense, especially in light of the fact that 99.8% of said pigeonholed folks are law abiding.

  • excuses won’t sove anything

    You can’t agree to the statement that people breaking laws such as felons in possession of guns, street dealing, street gambling, shootings, etc (the kinds of crimes that these units are plagued with) should be removed from the community?

    I’m not interested in solving the ills of society and not naive enough to think that we can solve national problems by letting a bunch of thugs live in housing paid for by taxpayers here in berkeley. I don’t want me or my kids to get mugged on the way home from school, and getting these people out of our community will help keep law abiding citizens safe.

  • guest

    According to the staff at Casa Latina, Linda Maio has spoken with them stating
    that 40 Acres is not doing anything illegal and has not been ordered to
    close.

    Something very fishy going on here.

  • righteous indigation solves 0

    You can’t agree to the statement that people breaking laws such as
    felons in possession of guns, street dealing, street gambling,
    shootings, etc (the kinds of crimes that these units are plagued with)
    should be removed from the community?

    As a blanket rule? No. In some individual cases? Perhaps.

    Part of the reason is that I think such a blanket approach may well make your kids more vulnerable, not less — but that’s only because I pay some attention to how hyperlocal issues relate to the “ills of society” and “national problems”.

  • concern trolling profits thugs

    The idea that kicking felons in possession of guns, street dealing, street gambling, shootings, etc, out of the community would make Berkeley MORE dangerous defies logic to the point where I no longer believe you to be serious in your posts.

    Surely you can’t actually believe that Berkeley would be safer with more felon lawbreakers living in the community, and are merely playing Devil’s Advocate on the issue. I fail to see the point in doing this unless you are just trying to muddy the waters.

  • fin

    I think you can draw a straight line from the housing insecurity of poverty, the high incarceration rate, the non-prospects for felons on the one hand and on the other hand such phenomena as the surge in smart-phone robberies, burglaries, and international drug trade. The systems we live in are hard-wired to produce this outcome in lots of ways. Doubling down on these systems makes it worse and is anyway bankrupting us. Turning a “shots fired” report into a generalized complaint about Section 8, which is where we started, is part of the problem.

    Enough, though.

  • from you, that’s ironic

    What you _think_ doesn’t matter if your thoughts aren’t based in fact. The facts are that housing in Berkeley with high numbers of Section 8 tenants are magnets for crime, and the more ex-felons we have in the community the more crime we have.

    The easiest way to reduce crime in our communities is to crack down on the bad behavior rather than engaging in futile attempts to solve National problems that harm people just trying to get by by bringing more bad actors into our neighborhoods.

  • bigbrother

    Surveillance could be done by citizens, assuming it were legal and the evidence is admissible in court, if the city does not want to do it. One could use something like this wifi camera, which can record, has night vision, and is viewable via an iphone, though one would be putting themselves at great risk of bodily injury by those under surveillance if the camera was seen or footage utilized in a real case http://www.dlink.com/us/en/home-solutions/view/network-cameras/dcs-2332l-outdoor-hd-wireless-day-night-cloud-camera

    To go all out, maybe one of these Shotspotter integrated UAV’s (aka “Drones”)…http://www.shotspotter.com/news/article/lockheed-martin-begins-production-of-shot-stalker-uav

  • Doug F

    bigbrother– Yes, of course it’s legal to take video of someone in a public park. All the more so when it’s officially closed, so there’s prima facie evidence of committing at least a misdemeanor. This works best if lots of neighbors are doing it, so the hoods & whole gangs know that no matter where they go in the park, they’re likely to be recorded. And if lots of neighbors are checking occasionally with their own eyes, ready to call the police. Good topics for that neighborhood watch meeting.

    Yes, you don’t want to let the hoods know they’re being recorded. If the camera has a record LED that shows from the front, black electrical tape will hide it.

  • emraguso

    We’ve been speaking with city officials and local residents about Strawberry Creek Park and its environs. Sounds like there have been some improvements. Read the latest and let us know what you think.
    http://www.berkeleyside.com/2014/04/18/gang-violence-drug-use-graffiti-spark-renewed-push-to-clean-up-west-berkeley-park