Berkeley gang member arrested, charged after Halloween night shooting

Police check for evidence at the scene of the shooting on Fairview Street, near California Street, in Berkeley, on Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2017. Photo: David Yee

The man responsible for a shooting that happened on the 1500 block of Fairview Street on Halloween night is in custody and has been charged with three felonies and an enhancement, according to Berkeley Police, who issued a Nixle alert about the case Tuesday afternoon.

Jose Paz-Leja, 26, of Berkeley, a known member of the West Side Berkeley Norteño gang, was charged Tuesday by the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office with assault with a firearm, the use of a firearm in commission of felony, commission of a felony while out on bail and a great bodily injury enhancement.

The shooting left a 25-year-old man, who was walking on Fairview on Oct. 31, with a gunshot wound to his leg. He was taken to Alta Bates Hospital for treatment, and later released.

Paz-Leja has a criminal record. He was arrested in August 2016 in connection with a DUI that caused injury. Police described him as a DUI driver with a suspended license who crashed into another vehicle in Berkeley and threatened to kill a witness. Paz-Leja was charged with multiple felonies and, in November of that year, was released on $190,000 bail. More recently, in April 2017, Paz-Leja was arrested in South Berkeley after he brandished a stolen gun at a woman.


Following the Halloween shooting this year, there was another one about two weeks later, in which a young man was also shot in the leg in the same neighborhood. On Nov. 14, an 18-year-old Berkeley man was walking his dog on the eastern sidewalk of Sacramento, just north of Alcatraz, when someone in a dark-colored vehicle shot him in the leg. The man was taken to Highland Hospital and was treated for non-life-threatening injuries.

Berkeley Police said afterwards it was unclear if the two incidents were related.

More recently, on Nov. 17, several shots were fired in southwest Berkeley and a stray bullet entered a home on the 1200 block of Carrison Street. Berkeley found no evidence of injured victims.

This story was updated after publication with more details about Jose Paz-Leja’s previous criminal history.

Read about 2017 shootings in Berkeley, reported by Berkeleyside.