The man found deceased in the southern end of Aquatic Park on Sunday Nov. 30 has been identified as Gary Baker.
An Alameda County Coroner spokeswoman said Baker was 51. The cause of his death is unknown, pending investigation, she said. She did not know his former place of residence.
Berkeley Police Officer Byron White said said the death was “unattended,” and the incident is being investigated as suspicious.
An Oakland resident discovered Baker in the park on Sunday afternoon and reported it to the police who received a call at 4:12 p.m.
The resident, who asked not to be named, was birdwatching around the park with her wife and a friend and they headed to the southernmost of the park’s three lakes as their last stop.
She told Berkeleyside: “We walked past the fence that I have since learned was installed to curtail the gay sex scene that has been going on in the bushes in that location for many years. We walked down closer to the lake at a point after the fence stopped, about half-way along the northern edge of the little lake. We were pretty focused on birds and only later realized that the little path we were on had been trod on by guys “cottaging,” as evidenced by many condom wrappers on the ground.
“As my wife scanned the weeds on the opposite (south) side of the lake, she said, ‘I think I’ve been watching too many murder mysteries — I think I see a body over there.’ Our friend, who is a very serious birdwatcher, had a spotting scope, which is a very powerful scope on a tripod, so my wife homed in on the spot and, with the scope, was able to determine that it was, indeed, a body, most likely dead.”
The resident said after she called 911 a BPD officer came and looked through the scope then called for back-up. Soon there were several police cars on the scene and numerous police officers around the body, she said, which was to the west of the radio station building.
The police reported that Baker was lying on his back, motionless. The resident said he was lying on his back with his arms at his sides and his feet right at the edge of the water.
“If he had been standing and fallen backward on that spot, he would have had to have been standing in the water. His body was well sunk into the grass, giving me the impression it had been there for a bit,” she said.
The BPD homicide detail responded to the scene to investigate. The case is ongoing.
Police: Man found dead in Berkeley’s Aquatic Park (11.30.14)
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