Suspect in custody after Berkeley homicide, stabbing

First responders were called to Ridge Road to help a woman who had been stabbed shortly before noon Friday. Photo: Ariel Nava

A UC Berkeley student wanted by police in connection with a homicide Friday, as well as a stabbing that sent a young woman to the hospital, is now in custody, authorities report.

Police identified the wanted person as 22-year-old Pablo Gomez Jr. of North Hollywood. According to Gomez Jr.’s Facebook page, they are a UC Berkeley student who lives in Berkeley. [A friend contacted Berkeleyside early Saturday to say Gomez Jr. uses the pronoun "they.”]

Berkeley Police Sgt. Andrew Frankel, department spokesman, said BPD got a call at 1:30 p.m. from a Burbank police officer who said Gomez Jr. was in their custody. Gomez Jr. will now be booked into the Los Angeles County jail system.

Frankel said, shortly before 4:30 p.m., that BPD has not identified the homicide victim.


Authorities say the violence took place in the 2400 block of Ashby Avenue, east of Telegraph Avenue. A woman who had been stabbed at that location somehow made it to the 2600 block of Ridge Road, just north of the UC Berkeley campus, and was able to get help. (Unconfirmed reports indicate she was dropped off before she flagged down help.)

As a result of the stabbing investigation, police zeroed in on a house on Ashby where they eventually found a body “much later.” No further information about that discovery has been provided.

Friends of a Berkeley woman named Emilie Inman, however, said she had some connection to Gomez, and asked Berkeleyside to spread the word to the community Friday that she was missing and that they were concerned. According to scanner recordings reviewed by Berkeleyside, her car was found in a driveway at one of the locations searched by police Friday.

Gomez Jr. is studying “Chicanx/Latinx Studies” according to their Facebook page, and is a senior climate action fellow at Alliance for Climate Education. (The “x” is a gender-neutral ending used to avoid a binary designation.) They were deeply involved in the campus activist community.

One person told Berkeleyside she had seen Gomez Jr.’s “advocacy work from afar and was always really impressed about it,” adding, “a lot are still in shock right now and need time to really process everything cause it’s so conflicting to [t[their]character.”

Wrote one supporter on Facebook: “I pray that my friend is ok …. And that all of this is a lie.”

There was some indication from people familiar with Gomez Jr. that mental health issues likely played a role in Friday’s violence.

Gomez Jr. posted often online about queer and transgender issues, and was deeply concerned about police brutality and a range of social justice causes. They wrote often about the importance of protesting unjust systems and fighting for equity, and expressed support for efforts such as shutting down freeways, “burning chiles at the door of the governor’s office to get them to respond to demands,” and questioning mainstream media on its depiction of crime and the treatment of minorities.

Their short bio on Twitter reads “nonbinary, pan xicanx who loves dr pepper.”

While growing up in Los Angeles, they attended Van Nuys High School.

Gomez Jr. has been involved with UC Berkeley’s Queer Alliance Resource Center, according to the group’s Facebook page, and helped organize a chalk protest on campus related to sexual assault, the Daily Californian reported in September.

Gomez Jr. also appeared in a YouTube video, viewed nearly 35,000 times, entitled “Students at Berkeley Vandalize Trump Cutout, Assault College Republicans.” In the video, Gomez Jr. can be seen tugging at the cardboard cutout, saying, “This is fucked up, this is really fucked up,” while smiling and remaining calm but assertive.

The investigation has already caught the attention of conservative political commentator and writer Ann Coulter, who posted about it on Facebook and Twitter. Many on the right, including members of the UC Berkeley community, have begun pointing at the case to argue against identity politics, preferred pronouns and related issues.

According to several hours of unconfirmed scanner recordings reviewed by Berkeleyside, a young woman in her early 20s flagged down a passer-by for help near Cloyne Court, a UC Berkeley student housing co-op at 2600 Ridge Road, just north of campus. The woman had been stabbed and was seriously injured. The call to police came in just after 11:40 a.m. Friday.

As it was described over the scanner, the woman had been dropped off in the area after the assault on Ashby. She told police the person who stabbed her was still in the area. Police immediately began a search while the woman was taken to the hospital. Police have said she is in stable condition.

The injured woman, who lives in a UC Berkeley student co-op in the Southside, told police her attacker stayed in a UC Berkeley student co-op in the Northside. Police searched both locations but did not find the assailant, according to scanner traffic.

Police quickly found in on the assault location, about 2 miles south of Cloyne Court in the 2400 block of Ashby Avenue near Florence Street, according to scanner traffic. Police searched a home and recovered evidence but did not find the assailant.

The door was wide open when police arrived. A Berkeley resident who passed through the area reported seeing a line of police tape across the whole parking area of a building on Ashby, with two or three BPD SUVs parked in front.

Multiple vehicles were towed as evidence in connection with the case, according to scanner recordings, including vehicles belonging to both the stabbing victim and Inman.

Stay tuned to Berkeleyside for continuing coverage of the case.

Have a question about a local public safety incident? Write to crime@berkeleyside.com. Photographs and videos are always appreciated.

Related:
Police hunt for armed and dangerous Berkeley suspect after homicide, stabbing (01.06.17)
Woman missing after stabbing that sent 1 to hospital (01.06.17)
Update: Young woman stabbed; police search for suspect (01.06.17)

Support independent local journalism by becoming a Berkeleyside member.