Man charged after reports he shot himself at fast-food spot

Emergency personnel transport a victim of a shooting to an ambulance on Friday, March 17. Photo: David Yee

A 19-year-old Berkeley man is facing several gun charges after reportedly shooting himself in the leg at a cafe near the Cal campus earlier this month. Authorities have said little, but witness reports and records online have helped provide some insight into what took place.

The incident happened nearly two weeks ago, just after 10 p.m. on Friday, March 17, in the food court at 2519 Durant Ave. The area is a popular spot with UC Berkeley students because campus is nearby and many of the options are affordable with late-night hours. A witness told Berkeleyside photographer David Yee, who went to the scene in response to broadcasts over the police radio, that the shooting took place inside Gypsy’s Trattoria Italiano.

Police have declined to confirm the location of the incident, or even that a shooting took place, but an arriving officer said on the radio that there was a bullet hole in the ceiling of 2519 Durant.

The witness told Yee he’d seen a young man in the restaurant with several young women just prior to the shooting. The witness heard a ruckus, then what sounded like glass breaking, but did not hear an actual gunshot. The young man then ran outside and was bleeding from the leg.


Another witness told Berkeleyside, “I saw the majority of activity in front of Gypsy Trattoria, and also further down the street on the corner of Bowditch and Durant.” He continued: “People there I encountered said that a man was sitting at a table eating pasta, and accidentally shot himself with a gun. He then left and headed towards Bowditch and Durant, on the north side, and collapsed. Fire truck and ambulance arrived shortly after police.”

Police responded to the Southside neighborhood for a shooting, but later released few details. Photo: Jason Miller
The scene outside Gypsy’s after a shooting earlier this month. Photo: Jason Miller

Police responded to the initial Berkeleyside inquiry — submitted at 10:40 p.m. March 17, less than an hour after the shooting — with basic information: “We are investigating … an incident in the south campus in which a person sustained an injury. At this stage it is too early to tell the cause of the injury.” Since then, no further information has been provided despite repeated requests.

Berkeleyside consulted multiple online crime data sites, including records posted by CrimeMapping, the Alameda County sheriff’s office and BPD’s own open data portal, to learn more. The search revealed that authorities, in fact, quickly made an arrest in connection with the March 17 shooting.

Demonte Dansby was arrested at 1:12 a.m. March 18, several hours after the shooting, on suspicion of carrying a loaded firearm in public, carrying a concealed firearm, and willful discharge of firearm in a negligent manner. He has since been charged with those felonies. Online records from the sheriff’s office allege that the gun Dansby fired was unregistered.

Dansby remains in custody on $100,000 bail at Santa Rita Jail in Dublin.


According to his Facebook page, Dansby attended Berkeley High and, later, Oakland Technical Senior High. His Facebook page says he is originally from Berkeley but was living in Oakland at the time of the arrest.

Dansby is scheduled for a pretrial hearing Monday at 9:15 a.m. at the René C. Davidson Courthouse in downtown Oakland.