Berkeleyside blotter: Crime in Berkeley, Feb. 18-24

Selected calls to the Berkeley Police, via CrimeMapping.com. Scroll down for detailed maps. Click the map above for the list. See the map key here.
Selected calls to the Berkeley Police, via CrimeMapping.com. Scroll down for detailed maps. Click the map above for the list. See the map key here.

This overview of recent crime in Berkeley is based on reports to the Berkeley Police unless otherwise noted. Share photos, videos and tips, about breaking news or neighborhood safety issues, via email at crime@berkeleyside.com or on Facebook or TwitterDon’t assume someone else will alert us. We rely on readers to help us stay informed.

From Feb. 18-24, there were reports of four robberiesnine burglaries21 assaults or batteriesfour weapon-involved calls and four sexual assaults, according to CrimeMapping.com. There were also 14 stolen vehicles12 disturbances and 33 auto break-ins or thefts from vehicles reported. A robbery and two burglaries were reported to the University of California Police Department (UCPD). The following items represent a sampling of calls; incidents that took place during a range of time are listed unless otherwise noted by the beginning of that time period. Arrested individuals listed in this blotter are presumed innocent.

Thursday, Feb. 18

There was a home burglary at midnight in the 1300 block of Peralta Avenue.


Police arrested Wilearl Pickens, 44, at 9:30 a.m. in connection with a robbery in Berkeley on Feb. 10 in the 1000 block of University at 2 p.m. He was arrested on suspicion of robbery, false imprisonment with violence and a firearm-related charge. He remains in custody at Santa Rita Jail with a bail of $1.2 million and is scheduled to enter a plea March 17.

There was a disturbance at 10:35 a.m. in the 2300 block of Shattuck Avenue.

There was a robbery at 6:30 p.m. in the 2300 block of Shattuck.

A vehicle was stolen at 8 p.m. in the 2300 block of Jefferson Avenue.

There was a felony assault or battery at 9:30 p.m. at Channing Way and Ellsworth Street.


Two men sought treatment after receiving mysterious injuries in Berkeley. In the first case, officers were dispatched to Herrick Hospital at about 9:40 p.m. for a report of a stabbing victim who had walked in seeking help. Authorities learned of the second incident just before midnight, when officers were sent to an unidentified local hospital after staff called police to report that a “possible assault victim” had come in seeking treatment. Read more on Berkeleyside.

UCPD received a report from a UC employee that he had seen two suspicious men inside Campbell Hall after hours. UCPD officers arrived and detained the two suspects, one of whom was found with burglary tools. Police searched their vehicle and said they found “stolen items from Campbell Hall and items that had been reported stolen from UC Irvine.” UCPD arrested the two men, Bradley Vincent, 36, and Jared Starkweather, 27, on suspicion of burglary. UCPD commended UC employee Howard Isaacson for his help.

There was a felony sexual assault at 11:54 p.m. in the 2000 block of Center Street. Scroll down for the related arrest, which appears in the next entry.

There were nine burglaries (shown in black) reported over this period, via CrimeMapping.com. The prior week there were 13. There was also four robberies (in blue), following seven the prior week. Click the map for a list.
There were nine burglaries (shown in black) reported over this period, via CrimeMapping.com. The prior week there were 13. There were also four robberies (in blue), following seven the prior week. Click the map for a list.

Friday, Feb. 19

Police arrested a 30-year-old homeless man on suspicion of raping a 36-year-old homeless woman sharing an alcove with him. Said BPD spokeswoman Officer Jennifer Coats, the woman and man were sleeping in the same alcove in the 2000 block of Center Street at about 12:40 a.m. when the man woke up and sexually assaulted the woman. She saw an officer down the street and “was able to use a ruse to get away from the suspect.” She walked up to the officer, as the man followed her, and then told the officer what had happened. Coats said the man and woman knew each other but were not intimately involved. The man was taken to Santa Rita Jail on suspicion of rape, and remains in custody in connection with a parole violation. The rape arrest was not listed. Andy Fortner is being held without bail and is scheduled for a hearing March 22. (This item first appeared in last week’s blotter for timeliness.)


There were three home burglaries: at 4:15 a.m. in the 2900 block of Ellsworth Street; at 9:30 a.m. in the 1600 block of Woolsey Street; and at 2 p.m. in the 1300 block of Cornell Avenue.

There were three disturbance calls: at 5 a.m. in the 2500 block of Durant Avenue; at 5:55 p.m. in the 2000 block of San Pablo Avenue; and at 10 p.m. in the 2400 block of Piedmont Avenue.

There was a commercial burglary at 7:07 a.m. in the 1900 block of Fourth Street. Police arrested a 61-year-old man in connection with the case but he is no longer in custody and charges do not appear to have been filed, according to online records from the Alameda County sheriff’s office.

There was a gun or other weapon at 7:22 p.m. at Russell and Mabel streets.

There were two second-response calls, at 10:17 p.m. in the 2400 block of Durant Avenue, and at 11:26 p.m. in the 2700 block of Bancroft Way.

Photo: Barbara Leslie
These officers recovered a stolen baseball with sentimental value and returned it to its owner. Photo: Barbara Leslie

Wrote Barbara Leslie on FB recently: “8 months after our Oakland home was burglarized, I got a call today from these two Berkeley officers, who in the course of their relentless efforts to find the perp, tracked down our son Max at school to return the first home run baseball he hit when he was 9 years old. Although nothing else was recovered, these two saw the ball and knew it meant something to someone. Thank you to Detective Castle and Sergeant Wilson for caring enough about our human experience to go the extra mile.”

The University of California Police Department received a report that two female students may have been drugged at the Chi Psi fraternity, and two female students may have been drugged at the Phi Gamma Delta (Fiji) Fraternity. Both incidents reportedly occurred on the evening of Friday, Feb. 19. No other information was released about the incidents, but UCPD did put out a list of safety tips, which can be seen online. (This appeared first in last week’s blotter for timeliness.)

Saturday, Feb. 20

There was a felony sexual assault at 12:01 a.m. in the 2300 block of Piedmont Avenue, and a misdemeanor sexual assault at 2:25 a.m. in the 2400 block of Parker Street.

A sexual assault occurred at a UC Berkeley fraternity, UCPD said. The victim attended a party at a fraternity house earlier on Friday, and the sexual assault took place between midnight and 12:45 a.m. Saturday in a room at the fraternity. The Berkeley Police Department is investigating this crime, UCPD said. Police did not release a suspect description. Authorities ask anyone with information to call the Berkeley Police Department Special Victims Unit at 510-981-5735. Those who wish to remain anonymous can call Bay Area Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477. (This item appeared in an earlier blotter for timeliness.)

There were two felony assaults or batteries, in the 1:01 a.m. in the 2400 block of Warring Street, and at 12:40 p.m. in the 1600 block of Tyler Street.

Police received a report of aggravated assaults at Channing Circle. Two male students, ages 19 and 20, were walking when a group of males across the street began harassing them: “The group crossed the street, knocked the victims to the ground and started beating them.” One of the victims received minor injuries and the other was taken to a local emergency room. In a brief statement about the incident, UCPD said “There is no description of the suspects at this time.” BPD spokeswoman Coats provided additional information: “We are investigating an assault that occurred in the 2400 block of Warring Street.… The victims were walking in the area when a group started yelling insults towards them. When they confronted the group, the group continued to yell insults. The victims started to walk away when one of them was pushed to the ground. The second victim was punched knocking him to the ground. The suspects continued to hit the victim until they fled. No suspects have been arrested or identified at this time. We are actively investigating.” Local residents reported online that police were speaking to people on fraternity row about the case. (This appeared in last week’s blotter for timeliness.)

There was a commercial burglary at 4:05 a.m. at University Avenue and Fourth Street.

Three vehicles were stolen: at 11 a.m. at Channing Way and Ellsworth; at 5:30 p.m. in the 1400 block of Josephine Street; and at 10 p.m. in the 2400 block of McKinley Avenue.

There were three weapon brandishing calls: at 10:30 p.m. at College and Durant avenues; 11 p.m. in the 600 block of Harvard Circle; and at 11:55 p.m. at Prince and Fulton streets.

Police arrested Giovanni Fernandez, 33, on suspicion of felony criminal threats in connection with the incident on Harvard Circle. He is no longer in custody but is scheduled for a jury trial March 18.

Shown above: assaults or batteries, weapon calls, sexual assaults, arsons and disturbances. Click the image for a list. Source: Crimemapping.com
Shown above: assaults or batteries, weapon calls, sexual assaults, arsons and disturbances. Click the image for a list. Source: Crimemapping.com

Sunday, Feb. 21

There was a second-response call at 12:18 a.m. in the 2500 block of Ridge Road.

Three vehicles were stolen: at 12:30 a.m. in the 1600 block of Ashby Avenue; at 8:30 a.m. in the 1800 block of San Lorenzo Avenue; and at 7:10 p.m. at Durant and Shattuck avenues.

There was a felony assault or battery at 12:52 a.m. in the 2300 block of Piedmont Avenue.

There was a home burglary at 1 a.m. in the 1700 block of Walnut Street.

There were three disturbance calls: at 1:51 p.m. in the 3000 block of Shattuck; at 5:10 p.m. in the 2100 block of Sixth Street; and at 9:30 p.m. in the 2200 block of Oxford Street.

There was a robbery at 7:38 p.m. in the 2000 block of Bancroft Way.

Via UCPD: At about 8:10 p.m. UCPD responded to a report of an armed robbery on the Grinnell Pathway just south of the Valley Life Sciences Building. A 20-year-old male student was walking on the path when he was approached by five young males. One had a gun, which he pointed at the student, then demanded his property. The student fled. Police searched the area but could not find the group. (This item first appeared in a prior blotter for timeliness.)

About 15 minutes later, UCPD received a report of a robbery in the 2500 block of Channing Way. The female victim was walking on Channing near Dana Street when she was robbed of her wallet, according to UCPD. UCPD responded and detained two teenagers matching the description of the robbery suspects. They were identified by the victim as the robbers. BPD arrived on scene and took both boys — a 16-year-old from Oakland and a 17-year-old from Hayward — into custody. Their names were not released because of privacy laws protecting minors. (Berkeley Police spokeswoman Officer Jennifer Coats said shortly after publication the teens were arrested on suspicion of grand theft, not robbery. The teenagers had reached into the victim’s purse and taken out her wallet. Her wallet was recovered during the investigation.) (This item first appeared in a prior blotter for timeliness.)

Police had a suspicious circumstances call shortly before 9 p.m. in the 2300 block of Piedmont Avenue, spokeswoman Coats said, “where a group of people knocked on the door, when it was opened [they] tried to get in. The residents closed the door and called the police.” Officers responded but couldn’t find the group. Coats added, “It is unknown if they were there to try and crash a possible party or if they had intended on breaking into the place.” (This appeared in last week’s blotter for timeliness.)

Monday, Feb. 22

There was a felony assault or battery at 1:15 a.m. in the 2300 block of Ellsworth.

Two vehicles were stolen, at 9:20 a.m. at Parker and Seventh streets, and at 10 p.m. in the 1100 block of Hopkins Street.

There was a disturbance call at 1:10 p.m. in the 3000 block of Shattuck.

The BART PD reported two auto burglaries at the Ashby BART station between 8 a.m. and about 6 p.m.

Several fire trucks and police cars responded through the North Berkeley hills at around 7:20 p.m. for a car fire in a garage on Michigan Avenue. BFD spokeswoman Interim Fire Chief Donna McCracken confirmed the fire was extinguished quickly. Ariel Nava shared several photographs with Berkeleyside.

There were 33 thefts or burglaries from vehicles, via CrimeMapping. There were 18 the prior week. There were also 14 vehicles stolen (in purple). Click the map for a list of incidents.
There were 33 thefts or burglaries from vehicles, via CrimeMapping. There were 18 the prior week. There were also 14 vehicles stolen (in purple). Click the map for a list of incidents.

Tuesday, Feb. 23

There were two commercial burglaries, at 1:08 a.m. in the 2500 block of Ninth Street, and at 5 a.m. in the 100 block of Bolivar Drive.

An eastbound Amtrak train struck a man who was on the train tracks near West Berkeley’s Gilman crossing at around 9:30 a.m., according to Union Pacific spokesman Francisco Castillo. The man, who Castillo described as “trespassing,” was injured and transported to Highland Hospital in Oakland. Read more on Berkeleyside.

Three vehicles were stolen: at 4 p.m. in the 2700 block of Garber Street; at 4:45 p.m. in the 2400 block of Hearst Avenue; and at 9 p.m. in the 1400 block of Berkeley Way.

Cedric Choyce and Michael Tillis, arrested by the BART Police in connection with catalytic converter thefts.
Cedric Choyce and Michael Tillis, arrested by the BART Police in connection with catalytic converter thefts.

Berkeleyside broke the news that, in less than 12 hours, a thief or thieves stole four catalytic converters from Hondas parked at the North Berkeley BART station earlier this week. There were a number of other East Bay thefts of catalytic converters that Berkeleyside also highlighted. On March 2, BART reported the arrest of two men they identified as “suspected catalytic converter thieves” in the Bay Area. Click the link for tips from BART about how to help prevent catalytic converter theft. BART investigators are asking anyone who has more information regarding recent catalytic converter thefts to call them at 510-464-7040.

There were two robberies, at 6:30 p.m. in the 1400 block of University Avenue, and at 11:12 p.m. in the 1800 block of Tacoma Avenue.

Wednesday, Feb. 24

Police identified a woman who died in the 2300 block of Telegraph Avenue as a 25-year-old Berkeley resident. Police got the call at 5:35 a.m. Authorities are investigating the case as an apparent suicide, said BPD spokeswoman Officer Jennifer Coats. The woman was pronounced dead at the scene. Telegraph Avenue was closed between Durant Avenue and Bancroft Way for approximately four hours during the investigation. Read more on Berkeleyside.

Two vehicles were stolen, at 8:30 a.m. in the 1500 block of North Street, and at 2 p.m. in the 2300 block of Durant Avenue.

There was a disturbance call at 3:04 p.m. at Channing Way and Ellsworth Street.

There was a misdemeanor sexual assault at 10 p.m. in the 1600 block of Ward Street.

Other news

The neighborhood association representing the area where Megan Schwarzman lives released the following update March 2 about her condition. She was hit in February by a driver police said was under the influence of marijuana and “possibly other medication”: “Meg is making a remarkable recovery from multi-site injuries that ranged from internal organ damage to multiple broken bones. Although she presently has stitches, wraps, a sling, and new bodily hardware, and must take constant medication to cope with the extraordinary level of pain, it is now clear that she will make it, with brain and mobility intact. Last week she moved to acute rehab for the long process of rebuilding her body, piece by piece. On the other side of this process, Meg’s one-year-old baby boy — whose first birthday passed in her absence from home — eagerly awaits his mom’s return. This is the most enormous motivator for Meg as she pushes through her difficult recovery. We have enough data about the dangers of the intersection and stretch of road where this accident occurred. Let’s not make any more families go something through this. Please consider taking action by writing to Berkeley’s City Manager to call upon her to fast track the project to make Fulton Street safer.” Read more about the Fulton Street bike lane background. [Note: This initially incorrectly identified the source of this information. It has been fixed.]

See the Berkeley Police Department’s crime reports on CrimeMapping.com. See the list of calls to UC Police at Berkeley, which are also posted in brief on CrimeMapping, and UCPD crime alerts. See also Local Crime News’ regularly published list of arrests of Berkeley residents. Other sources of information on crime in Berkeley include the Police Department’s CrimeView Community and CrimeMapping.com. The Berkeley Police Department also posts “calls for service” spreadsheets — containing more data — online for those who would like to see more. New reports may be added to CrimeMapping in an unpredictable manner, so numbers may increase in the days after this report. This post does not reflect every call. See recent Berkeley crime blotters here.

Related:
Berkeley fourth-grader hit by car; parents call for better crosswalk lighting (03.09.16)
Premier Cru owner had penchant for expensive cars (03.08.16)
Defense attorney: Berkeley detectives ‘rushed to judgment’ in murder case arrest (03.07.16)
Breaking: Gunfire in South Berkeley, fire on University (03.06.16)
Police believe new sexual assault in Berkeley is linked to prior attacks (03.05.16)
Man found guilty of attempted manslaughter after brutal beating, high-speed car chase (3.04.16)
BPD: Driver in stalled RV escaped to safety before train hit (03.03.16)
Berkeleyside blotter: Crime in Berkeley, Feb. 11-17 (03.01.16)
Berkeley Fire responds to blaze at central Berkeley home (02.29.16)
Berkeley man takes plea deal in 2010 murder case (02.26.16)
Berkeley police arrest 3 alleged robbers, seek fourth (02.26.16)
4 catalytic converters stolen from North Berkeley BART (02.25.16)

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