The father of two who was fatally shot Tuesday night in South Berkeley had been playing dice with the man who has been charged with killing him after emptying 16 rounds from a semiautomatic handgun into his body, according to court documents released Friday.
According to police, Christian Sheppard and Anthony Durant were the only players in a dice game behind the apartment complex at 1611 Russell St. just prior to the Oct. 6 shooting, which was Berkeley’s first homicide of 2015.
Court documents indicate Durant shot 16 rounds at Sheppard before fleeing the crime scene and dumping the gun in a nearby yard, according to police. The two men both attended Berkeley schools, had known each other since childhood and grew up in the same South Berkeley neighborhood.
The Alameda County district attorney’s office charged Durant on Friday afternoon with murder and unlawful firearm activity, both of which are felonies. According to court papers, Durant was prohibited from firearm possession after a robbery in 2006, when he was still a minor.
Police received multiple 911 calls Tuesday night about the sound of gunfire in South Berkeley.
When officers arrived, they found Sheppard “collapsed with multiple gunshot wounds to various parts of his body” behind the Russell Street apartment complex.
Officers found spent casings from 16 rounds in the area, as well as evidence that a dice game had preceded the shooting.
A witness told police Durant and Sheppard had been the only ones playing dice just before the shooting, and that Durant then fled the scene.
Authorities did not indicate in court documents what may have prompted the violence.
Officers cordoned off several blocks in the neighborhood and used canines to search within the perimeter.
Police quickly narrowed their search to a home in the 1600 block of Julia Street, identified in court papers as “Durant’s family home,” after witness reports pointed to Durant.
According to court papers, police recovered a semiautomatic handgun that had been tossed in a yard on the north side of the 1600 block of Julia Street. There were no more bullets in the gun — which had a 16-round capacity — and the slide had been locked back, police wrote.
During their search, police noticed a man they believed to be Durant walking around inside his family’s home, at times peering out onto the street. Officers surrounded the house and detained Durant when he tried to leave through a side door shortly after midnight Wednesday, according to court papers.
Durant had already been scheduled for a court hearing later this month in connection with a gun-related case from earlier this year. In March, Berkeley police said he had been armed with a pistol during a dispute with another person. The department’s Special Response Team served several search warrants at that time in the 1600 block of Russell, and arrested Durant on suspicion of carrying a concealed firearm, being prohibited from firearm possession due to a juvenile conviction, and probation violation.
Durant was arrested in Berkeley in June 2014 after a shooting in the 1600 block of Russell that injured two people, though charges ultimately were not filed in that case due to a lack of victim cooperation. According to court papers, he also was pulled over in Berkeley in December 2013 and found with a loaded, concealed firearm later determined to have been stolen. He told police he had just picked up the gun at the corner store and planned to turn it in to authorities.
Durant was on probation at the time of his arrest. His next appearance in court was not immediately available pending an update of Alameda County sheriff’s department records online.
Friends have said Sheppard was a committed father who was working as a bread deliveryman to help support his fiancée and two children. They described him as loyal, passionate about family, and “known for his ability to relate to almost anyone.” He left two daughters, a 5 year old and a 5 month old.
“He could often be seen in Berkeley with both of his daughters riding in his backseat,” wrote Berkeleyside intern Delency Parham in a memorial post about Sheppard. “He was someone who never shied away from responsibility, who loved others much more than he loved himself.”
Sheppard had been working to get his life on track after serving time in prison in recent years, and was on parole after a burglary conviction. He had also run into trouble as a teenager. In 2008, he was arrested in Berkeley, according to a report in the Daily Cal, after reportedly robbing a fellow Berkeley High student of an MP3 player in Civic Center Park. The school went on lockdown while authorities searched for a gun said to have been used by Sheppard in that crime. The next day, authorities found a “soft pellet gun” in a locker, which the school district said may have been the one used in the robbery.
Dr. James A. Long Jr., pastor of True Faith Baptist Church in Oakland, identified Christian to KTVU earlier this week as a deacon in that church.
Christian’s mother, Wanda Hunter, told KTVU on Wednesday that she is making peace with the tragic loss. She also said she has forgiven Durant.
“Christian is at home,” she told KTVU. “Christian is OK. He’s out of danger. He won’t have no more pain, no more worries. He’s free.”
Details about funeral services have not been publicly announced.
Remembering Christian Sheppard (10.08.15)
Police make arrest in fatal shooting of 24-year-old (10.07.15)
Shooting on Russell in Berkeley sends 1 to hospital (10.06.15)
Berkeleyside blotter: Crime in Berkeley, March 12-18 (03.27.15)
Berkeley police make second arrest in shooting (06.27.14)
After 4 house raids, police arrest 1 man; second is ‘armed and dangerous,’ still sought (06.26.14)
Breaking: Authorities raid one or more homes in Berkeley (06.26.14)
Police make arrest in South Berkeley double shooting (06.12.14)
Gunshots in South Berkeley, 2 victims (06.11.14)
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