Berkeley carjacking suspect charged in Oakland murder

Bennie Williams. Image: OPD
Bennie Williams. Image: OPD

A man linked to an armed carjacking in West Berkeley on Sunday, after reportedly ditching another stolen vehicle, has been charged with the Oakland murder of a 78-year-old man the same day.

Bennie Williams, 26, has been charged by the Alameda County district attorney’s office with the murder earlier on Sunday of Warner Willis.

Willis was found stabbed to death in his bungalow in the 1400 block of Chestnut Street at approximately 9:15 p.m., according to the Oakland Police Department.

Williams was apprehended by police several hours earlier, though authorities initially did not know about the alleged link to the Oakland crime.


According to Berkeley Police spokeswoman Officer Jennifer Coats, Williams used a gun Sunday just after 4:45 p.m. to steal a 38-year-old woman’s vehicle at the SeaBreeze market in Berkeley near West Frontage and University Avenue

Police responded to the call and tried to stop Williams, but he sped off, according to Coats, “without regard to public safety.”

Williams crashed near Ashby Avenue and tried to run from the scene. According to Coats, Berkeley officers quickly apprehended the Oakland man. No injuries resulted from the incident.

Berkeley Police Lt. Dave Frankel told KTVU that Williams arrived to the SeaBreeze in a stolen Audi, registered in Piedmont, then took the woman’s Prius on a high-speed chase that reached 65-70 mph. The pursuit ended when Williams drove into an overpass. Police caught up with him moments later, Frankel said.

He told KTVU that police found a loaded firearm in the Prius.


No other information has been released regarding the other stolen vehicle.

According to an amended complaint from the district attorney’s office, Williams was charged Thursday with using a knife to murder Willis during a burglary and robbery. Authorities have released no other details about the circumstances of that crime.

Williams also faces three felony counts of carjacking, as well as felony second-degree robbery, evading a police officer, and assault with force likely to produce great bodily injury.

The complaint lists five other victims — three women and two men — in connection with those crimes, in addition to the man who was stabbed to death.

No prior convictions were listed in court papers.


Williams remains in custody at Santa Rita Jail in Dublin with a bail of $430,000.

According to the Oakland Tribune, Willis’ body was found by his 80-year-old brother in the West Oakland home they shared. A friend of Willis told the Tribune that the victim had worked in construction earlier in life, and still rode his bicycle around the neighborhood.

Update, 12:57 p.m.: According to court papers, police believe Williams first committed the homicide, then carjacked two other victims before ending up in Berkeley.

A 12:55 p.m. Thursday, the Oakland Police Department released a brief statement about the killing, which they said took place “sometime before 4:00 PM” Sunday.

“Besides being charged in Mr. Willis’s death, Williams has been charged with two carjackings that occurred in Oakland after the homicide. Mr. Willis was arrested in Berkeley, by the Berkeley Police Department, for a third carjacking.”

The first of those carjackings took place outside the home of Willis, in the 1400 block of Chestnut. No location was provided for the second incident.

According to court documents, Williams “provided a full confession” to the homicide and three carjackings during an interview with police in Oakland.

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