Update: Berkeley standoff over; man surrenders

Emergency personnel responded in significant numbers to an incident on Sixt Street and Virginia in West Berkeley today. Photo: Emilie Raguso
Emergency personnel responded in significant numbers to an incident at a storage facility (upper left in the photograph) on Sixth and Virginia streets in West Berkeley today. Photo: Emilie Raguso

Update, Aug. 11, 4 p.m. Berkeleyside has received some additional information from the Berkeley Police Department about how this call came in. Police said initial reports indicated that the man who refused to come out of the West Berkeley storage facility last week may have been armed with a “long gun,” which Berkeley Police spokeswoman Officer Jennifer Coats said generally means some type of rifle.

“We also had reports that the suspect made threats to burn the facility down. After he was detained, he was found in possession of several replica firearms, with the orange safety tip removed, making them appear like real guns,” Coats said via email. The investigation into the incident is continuing.

Coats said no arrests have been made, and that the man who was detained may still be in the hospital.

Update, Aug. 6, 6 p.m. Via the Berkeley Police Department: The man was taken to the hospital for evaluation. Whether or not criminal charges will be filed remains to be determined, as investigators are still working on the case, said department spokeswoman Officer Jennifer Coats.


Update, Aug. 6, 4:35 p.m. Berkeley Police have sent a notice that the roadways are now open. 

Update, Aug. 6, 3:50 p.m.: A man who was initially reported to be suicidal and possibly armed, and who refused to come out of a storage facility in West Berkeley several hours ago, has surrendered to police without incident, authorities said.

Berkeley Police spokeswoman Officer Jennifer Coats said the 28-year-old Berkeley man was safely taken into custody at about 3:15 p.m.

Police said they received reports Wednesday morning about the man, who was said to be possibly suicidal and may have had weapons. When they arrived to the area of Sixth and Virginia streets to investigate, the man was inside a storage facility and refused to come out.

Coats said the man continued to wander through the property, going up and down between its two floors, as officers surrounded the area and agreed on a plan.

Police evacuated staff from the facility and shut down numerous blocks in the area during the investigation. Sixth Street has been closed between Cedar and Delaware streets, and Virginia has been closed between Fifth and Seventh streets.

Coats said police hope to open the blocks “shortly,” particularly as rush hour approaches, but could not offer a concrete time.

Coats said police had done an initial sweep of the the storage business and found no other people believed to be associated with the incident. Officers continued to search the area for weapons.

Coats said Berkeley officers were able to borrow an armored vehicle from Alameda County to allow them to approach the building and use the PA system to make contact with the man.

Once officers made contact, the man made himself visible to officers and they took him into custody, she said.

Coats said no one was injured during the incident.

Officers from the Police Department’s CIT program — who receive more advanced mental health deescalation training as part of their work — were speaking with the man.

Coats said he had not been arrested and that his name could not be released at this time.

Update, Aug. 6, 2:48 p.m.: Berkeley Police say people should avoid the area around the 1600 block of Sixth Street. It remains closed to vehicles and pedestrians until further notice. A BPD Nixle alert at 2:37 p.m. said police do not have an ETA for when authorities will allow access to the area.

Update, Aug. 6, 2:25 p.m.: Authorities are trying to make contact with a man, possibly suicidal, who is inside a building on the 1600 block of Sixth Street in West Berkeley.

According to Berkeley Police spokeswoman Officer Jennifer Coats, who spoke to Berkeleyside, BPD received a report at 11:12 a.m today of a man who is inside a storage facility on Sixth Street and Virginia. Officer Coats said the man, who is alone, may be armed. Negotiators are trying to make contact with him. Officer Coats was unable to confirm early reports from members of the community that explosives, or threats of explosives, were involved.

Berkeleyside reporter Emilie Raguso, who is on scene, said more than a dozen BPD and Berkeley Fire vehicles are on scene. Sixth Street is closed between Cedar and Delaware. Virginia is closed between Fifth Street and Seventh Street. Local residents, including Azrael Vargas who took some of the photos shown here, and his mother, have been asked by authorities to stay inside.

Police respond to man, possibly suicidal, who has barricaded himself in a storage facility on Sixth Street. Photo: Emilie Raguso
Police respond to man, possibly suicidal, who has barricaded himself in a storage facility on Sixth Street in West Berkeley. Photo, showing Sixth Street looking north, by Emilie Raguso
Officers respond to incident on Sixth Street. Photo: Azrael Vargas
Officers respond to incident on Sixth St. Photo: Azrael Vargas

Update, Aug. 6, 1:40 p.m. Berkeley Police spokeswoman Officer Jennifer Coats said shortly after 1:30 p.m. that there had been no reported gunshots, contrary to an earlier report to Berkeleyside from a community member.

Update, Aug. 6, 1:20 p.m. According to police, the 1500 and 1600 blocks of Fifth, Sixth and Seventh streets are closed to vehicle and pedestrian traffic.

Original post, Aug. 6, 1:06 p.m. The Berkeley Police Department is advising residents to avoid the 1600 block of Sixth Street, near Cedar Street, due to unspecific “police activity.”

Police sent out a notice via the Nixle alert network just after 12:50 p.m.

“Please avoid this area until further notice. No pedestrian of vehicular traffic will be allowed in the area,” the notice read.

The notice describes the incident as “moderate” severity, meaning there is a possible threat to life or property.

Police said they expect action within the next hour.

The incident significant, armed emergency response. Photo: Azrael Vargas
The incident significant, armed emergency response. Photo: Azrael Vargas
Police activity in West Berkeley. Photos: Mike Estrada
Police activity in West Berkeley. Photos: Mike Estrada
A long line of police cars on Sixth Street, responding to incident that was first reported at 11:12 a.m. on August 6. by Emilie Raguso
A long line of police cars on Sixth Street, responding to incident that was first reported at 11:12 a.m. on August 6. by Emilie Raguso

One local resident said Sixth is closed between Delaware and almost to Gilman Street: “SWAT teams can be seen with assault rifles hiding behind a building. Neighbor says it is a hostage situation and he heard gun shots 10 minutes ago. I’m staying inside but can see some of the police activity from my upstairs window.”

[Update, 1:40 p.m. Berkeley Police spokeswoman Officer Jennifer Coats said shortly after 1:30 p.m. that there had been no gunshots.]

Another person in the area said she heard “Tons of sirens” and saw a “helicopter overhead. Started hearing the noise at about 12:25 while swimming at West campus.”

Police activity in West Berkeley today has alarmed many residents. Photo: A Citizen Reporter
Police activity in West Berkeley today has alarmed many residents. Photo: A Citizen Reporter

Berkeleyside will update this story as more information becomes available.

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