Crime

Authorities investigate BB gun shooter on Telegraph

Two vendors who were hit by BB gun pellets in early May. Photo: Ted Friedman

Two vendors who were hit by BB gun pellets fired from an upper-story window on Telegraph Avenue in early May. Photo: Ted Friedman

Authorities are considering filing charges against a 20-year-old Berkeley man alleged to have altered a BB gun and fired hundreds of pellets at people on Telegraph Avenue in May.

The man’s name has not been released, and no charges appear to have yet been filed against him, said Officer Stephanie Polizziani, a Berkeley Police spokeswoman, on Thursday.

According to authorities, police received a call May 10 shortly after 11 a.m. that several people had been hit by a BB or pellet gun in the 2300 block of Telegraph Avenue, just south of the UC Berkeley campus.

According to scanner audio recordings, the caller said someone was using a pellet gun to shoot people who were walking into the Bear Basics clothing shop, at 2350 Telegraph.

Police located the alleged shooter in this apartment building. Photo: Ted Friedman

Police located the alleged shooter in this apartment building. Photo: Ted Friedman

Berkeley Police spokeswoman Officer Jennifer Coats said officers found “a large number” of plastic BBs on the sidewalk when they arrived.

After speaking with several witnesses, police found the man in a nearby residential building who was believed to have been responsible for shooting out his window.

Police said the man had several Airsoft BB guns, which were seized as evidence. According to Coats, the safety tip on one of the guns had been altered — to make it look like a real firearm — which is illegal.

Police spoke with three victims who had been hit, but none of them wanted to seek prosecution, said Coats.

According to Berkeley resident and Berkeleyside contributor Ted Friedman, victims shot with BBs included merchants on Telegraph Avenue, and shootings took place over two subsequent weekends.

“We didn’t even know what was happening,” a vendor told Friedman, about the first weekend. “All we knew was that hundreds of BBs buzzed us. We didn’t call police because we didn’t even know where the shots were coming from.”

Another vendor told Friedman he wasn’t interested in pursuing a case: “We didn’t want to ruin some guy’s life.”

One of the hundreds of pellets recovered on Telegraph Avenue. Photo: Ted Friedman

One of hundreds of pellets found on Telegraph. Photo: Ted Friedman

The vendors picked up hundreds of BB pellets from Telegraph Avenue. One told Friedman he planned to use them in plastic sculptures inspired by fantasy roleplaying game Dungeons & Dragons.

It was during the second weekend, on May 10 — when a stroller was hit by the shooter — that the vendors decided to take action and call police. A T-shirt vendor was able to zero in on the third-floor window where the shots were coming from. Friedman identified the building as the Hotel Carlton, which he described as a “mostly student hotel.”

Friedman said police brought the man outside in a “spit mask” — designed to protect officers from saliva — and confiscated “two assault-style BB rifles and a bag bulging with 1,500 BBs. Cops displayed the cache to vendors, one of whom — a Vietnam veteran machine-gunner — told me the assault-style BB rifle seemed real. Another vendor said the rifle’s electronics had been altered to turn the weapon into a machine-gun.”

Berkeley Police forwarded the case to the Alameda County district attorney’s office for charging consideration, Coats said, in connection with the alteration of the BB gun, a misdemeanor, and willfully discharging a BB device in a grossly negligent manner.

Related:
Building begins on site of Sequoia Apts fire on Telegraph (06.03.14)
Is In-N-Out Burger coming to Telegraph Avenue? (04.28.14)
‘Moorish palace’ plans for Telegraph show little progress (04.28.14)
Berkeley’s People’s Park marks its 45th anniversary (04.28.14)
Telegraph Ave. scrubbed, cleaned in beautification effort (03.25.14)
Council to consider higher rates, evening hours for some Berkeley parking meters (03.21.14)
Off the Grid pulls plug on Southside Berkeley market (03.17.14)
Berkeley’s Moe’s Books honored with historical plaque (02.11.14)

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  • guest

    Cal students finally fed up with the city’s inaction in cleaning up Telegraph Ave?

  • Charles_Siegel

    I am curious about this. You say that alteration of the BB gun is a misdemeanor. But you don’t say this about willfully discharging a BB device in a grossly negligent manner. Is that also a misdemeanor?

  • Officer White

    Yes, It is a misdemeanor.

  • guest

    Based on the pellet type the toy gun used was an airsoft gun. These are designed to be used to shoot at people without causing injury during military games and reenactments.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Airsoft_gun

  • guest

    “two assault-style BB rifles and a bag bulging with 1,500 BBs. Cops
    displayed the cache to vendors, one of whom — a Vietnam veteran
    machine-gunner — told me the assault-style BB rifle seemed real. Another
    vendor said the rifle’s electronics had been altered to turn the weapon
    into a machine-gun.”

    What ignorant, scare-mongering nonsense.

    1.) These are TOY GUNS, not weapons.
    2.) Assault-style is a meaningless, scare-mongering term.
    3.) A bag of 1,500 of the tiny plastic pellets these fire is about the size of a sandwich bag.
    4.) Airsoft toy guns don’t have “electronics” to alter.
    5.) The “alteration” the police are referring to just means taking the orange plastic tip off the toy.

    http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_2?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=airsoft%20gun

  • Boycott Rasputin’s & Blondie’s

    Don’t forget the help Worthington gets from Sarachan. Telegraph would be much nicer without his assistance.

  • Nick

    “Another vendor told Friedman he wasn’t interested in pursuing a case: “We didn’t want to ruin some guy’s life.’ ” Oh, no. Let’s not ruin the little miscreants life! Let’s wait for him to escalate or decompensate and kill ten people in a rampage. Are these people for real? Charge the man. Make sure he’s prevented from buying real guns. As far as these not being “real,” explain that to a cop when he/she’s looking at one pointed at them. People are so naive.

  • guest

    People shoot each other with airsoft rifles for fun all the time, and none of them turn into mass murderers. Check youtube if you don’t believe me.

  • Guest

    If the vendors had acted sooner, the stroller never would have been hit. We need to stop tolerating this level of aberrant behavior in Berkeley, where we currently just brush it off as just being “Berkeley.”

  • B2B

    “None of them turn into mass murderers”?

    How could you possible know that?

  • guest

    I bet mass murderers also drink coffee. Time to start banning coffee and arresting anyone who drinks it.

  • Peter Gauge

    Wrong caliber and crappy aim.