Author Archives: Emilie Raguso

Woman killed in South Berkeley remembered as artist, humorist, lover of plants and pets

Nancy McClellan. Photo: David Gallagher
Print Friendly

On Russell Street a tree is blooming. Tibetan prayer flags are strung across its branches in a rainbow of color. White paper tags that flutter, holding messages of hope and healing, are its blossoms. Looking closer, one might notice laminated photographs and Buddhist passages hanging from the boughs, bouquets of flowers at its base.

The tree stands outside the Berkeley Zen Center, a Buddhist meditation group whose roots date back decades in South Berkeley. The memorial was created to honor Nancy McClellan, the zen center’s head gardener, who was mortally stabbed after leaving a wedding at the center in mid-September. McClellan died in October after being removed from life support when she failed to recover from the injuries she sustained the sunny Friday afternoon she was attacked less than a block from her beloved garden at the zen center.

Having just lost a friend to illness, McClellan spent much of the wedding telling those around her that she loved them, friends recalled.

Friday, Oct. 24, the 18-year-old man who has been charged with trying to kill 72-year-old McClellan after a failed carjacking is set to enter a plea in that case. Kamau Berlin of Richmond — a student at nearby B-Tech — has been charged by the Alameda County district attorney’s office with attempted murder and attempted carjacking. Berkeley police said, after McClellan’s death, the charge would likely be upgraded to murder.

Sunday, the Berkeley Zen Center held a memorial for McClellan to allow for “final goodbyes” from members of the meditation community, as well as others who knew McClellan.

This month, close friends of McClellan who live around the Bay Area have grappled with their grief, particularly as some thought at first she might recover from the brutal attack.

“I’ve had a hard time getting her out of my mind these last few weeks,” said Karl Anderson, a Castro Valley man who knew McClellan for more than two decades. “She probably looked like an easy target but, in fact, she must have fought back and that was what happened, knowing her. I can imagine she’d say, ‘Oh, no you don’t.’ She would not give in.”

Continue reading »

Tagged , , , , , , ,
Crime

1 held, 1 freed in Berkeley hatchet homicide

The man police believe was Berkeley's first homicide victim of 2014 lived in this building on Addison Street. Photo: Emilie Raguso
Print Friendly

A judge has freed a woman arrested after the killing of a Berkeley man in February, but ruled Thursday that her boyfriend must face the murder charge against him in the case.

Late Thursday afternoon, Alameda County Superior Court Judge Thomas Reardon said enough evidence had been presented for 29-year-old Michael Diggs to continue to face prosecution in the Feb. 28 homicide of Sylvan Fuselier in his West Berkeley home.

A woman police said was Diggs’ accomplice in the case, 41-year-old , will not be prosecuted, and is set to be released from custody. She has been incarcerated without bail since March 31. Her attorney, James Giller, said her involvement amounted to “pure speculation,” and the judge ultimately agreed to drop the murder charge against her.  … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,
Crime

Berkeley carjacking suspect charged in Oakland murder

Bennie Williams. Image: OPD
Print Friendly

A man linked to an armed carjacking in West Berkeley on Sunday, after reportedly ditching another stolen vehicle, has been charged with the Oakland murder of a 78-year-old man the same day.

Bennie Williams, 26, has been charged by the Alameda County district attorney’s office with the murder earlier on Sunday of Warner Willis.

Willis was found stabbed to death in his bungalow in the 1400 block of Chestnut Street at approximately 9:15 p.m., according to the Oakland Police Department.

Williams was apprehended by police several hours earlier, though authorities initially did not know about the alleged link to the Oakland crime.

According to Berkeley Police spokeswoman Officer Jennifer Coats, Williams used a gun Sunday just after 4:45 p.m. to steal a 38-year-old woman’s vehicle at the SeaBreeze market in Berkeley near West Frontage and University Avenue.  … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,
Crime

Exclusive: Alleged killer says sexual advances toward girlfriend prompted Berkeley homicide

The man police believe was Berkeley's first homicide victim of 2014 lived in this building on Addison Street. Photo: Emilie Raguso
Print Friendly

Michael Diggs, the homeless man charged with killing a 54-year-old Berkeley man with a hatchet in late February, told police he snapped after the victim walked naked into the bathroom where Diggs’ girlfriend was showering, then tried to force her to have sex with him.

Police arrested 29-year-old Diggs in early April in connection with the killing of Sylvan Fuselier in Berkeley more than a month before. Police also arrested 41-year-old , Diggs’ girlfriend, in the case. Authorities charged both with the Feb. 22 murder of Fuselier.

The couple has appeared in court this week before Alameda County Superior Court Judge Thomas Reardon, who will determine whether there is enough evidence against them for the case to proceed to trial.

Read full Berkeleyside coverage of the case.

During a lengthy interview after his arrest by Berkeley Police, Diggs confessed to killing Fuselier after the older man began acting strange and became insistent about having sex with Sessoms, who repeatedly refused his advances, according to a transcript of Diggs’ confession. … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,
Crime

Berkeleyside blotter: Crime in Berkeley, Oct. 9-15

Selected calls for service to the Berkeley Police, via CrimeMapping.com. (Scroll down for maps of robberies, burglaries, auto burglaries and auto thefts.) Click the map for the full list. See the map key here.
Print Friendly

This is a partial list of recent crime in Berkeley, compiled by Berkeleyside, and based on reports to the Berkeley Police Department unless otherwise noted. The following items represent a sampling of calls, and times may be approximate.

From Oct. 9-15, there were reports of 16 burglaries27 auto break-ins or thefts from vehicles and 10 stolen vehicles, according to CrimeMapping.comFour robberies14 assaults, domestic violence incidents or batteries and two sexual assaults were reported. Significant incidents from the University of California Police Department included two robberies and three reports of vandalism. These numbers are subject to change. Click the links above for the latest numbers.

We always appreciate photographs and tips, about breaking news or neighborhood safety issues, via email at tips@berkeleyside.com or on Facebook or Twitter; please let us know up front if you prefer to be anonymous.

Thursday, Oct. 9

Two home burglaries were reported, at 8:51 a.m. in the 2400 block of Ashby Avenue, and at 11 p.m. in the 1100 block of High Court.

Police arrested 34-year-old Oscar Christopher at 12:05 p.m. on a warrant for failing to register as a sex offender. He remains in custody with a bail of $115,000 at Santa Rita Jail, and is scheduled for a pre-trial hearing Oct. 23.

Police responded to a disturbance at 8:03 p.m. in the 1300 block of Henry Street. Police arrested Zuberi Hill, 36, on suspicion of failure to register as a sex offender, burglary and theft. He remains in custody with a bail of $70,000 at Santa Rita Jail and is scheduled for a pre-trial hearing Nov. 4.

A vehicle was stolen at 8:30 p.m. in the 1700 block of Parker Street. … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , ,
Government

The lowdown: Berkeley council on disaster prep, longterm parking in South Berkeley, ambulance issues, more

Berkeley City Council, May 2014. Photo: Emilie Raguso
Print Friendly

Scroll down to learn about the highlights of this week’s Berkeley City Council agenda.

The special session: Disaster preparedness

At 5:30 p.m., Berkeley Fire Chief Gil Dong will give an overview to council about the city’s approach to disaster preparedness and emergency management. (It’s good timing, as the city just held its annual community-wide disaster preparedness training day Saturday.) The report from Dong also serves as training for council about the role it must play during a disaster. The packet includes a 30-page report called “Resilience in Berkeley: Highlights from 25 years of community support.” Read the report. … Continue reading »

Tagged ,
Crime

Update: UC Berkeley student exonerated of rape charge

Image via Facebook
Print Friendly

The case against a 20-year-old UC Berkeley student charged earlier this month with rape has been dismissed, authorities said Friday afternoon, and he has been found “factually innocent” of that allegation.

Eugene Quillin was scheduled to enter a plea in the case Friday morning.

But Teresa Drenick, Alameda County district attorney’s office spokeswoman, said Friday afternoon that the case against Quillin was instead dismissed.

Quillin’s attorney, Ted W. Cassman, said shortly before 4 p.m. via email that the case was dismissed for insufficient … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , , ,
Crime

5 report frat house drugging, sex assaults in Berkeley

The Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity near UC Berkeley. Photo: Google maps
Print Friendly

Update, 2 p.m. The University of California Police Department has released a new alert saying that one member of a fraternity says he was sexually assaulted by another, and that there may be other victims.

“A leadership member of the Theta Delta Chi fraternity contacted a UC Berkeley Campus Security Authority. The leadership member reported that he was contacted by a member of the Berkeley Theta Delta Chi fraternity,” UCPD wrote. “The member reported that he had been sexually assaulted by another current UC Berkeley Theta Delta Chi fraternity member. The reporting member stated that there may be other victims.”

UCPD turned this information over to the Berkeley Police Department, which said no activity of this nature has been reported to it.

No additional information was released.

Original story, 1 p.m. Police say five people came forward to report having been sexually assaulted after being given “roofies” — also known as “the date rape drug” — at a fraternity near the UC Berkeley campus over the weekend.

That report comes on the heels of a recent weekend where three women said they were sexually assaulted in fraternities or near the Cal campus. One man was charged with rape in connection with one of those cases, but he was exonerated of the charge against him Friday morning.

The University of California Police Department released a brief statement Thursday evening about the most recent reports.

According to that statement, five people said they were given “roofies” before being sexually assaulted at the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity in the 2300 block of Piedmont Avenue. … Continue reading »

Tagged , , ,
Crime

Berkeley police find bike stash, but still seeking victims

Recovered bikes. Photo: BPD
Print Friendly

Update, Oct. 21: The Berkeley Police Department released the following notice today.

Since the news of this arrest, our Property Crimes Unit has received an overwhelming response from community members looking for their bicycles. Because of this, the Police Department will only be able to call persons back who had bicycles stolen that are similar to the items we have recovered. We apologize for this and thank you for your assistance with this investigation.

At this point, the Berkeley Police Department only has a handful of bicycles. Please only contact our Property Crimes Unit if you have the following bicycles:

· An aluminum mountain bicycle with Manitou suspension forks
· 2WENTY 29er 21-speed bicycle
· GIANT FCR3 21-speed road bicycle
· An aluminum GT mountain bicycle

There were no other bicycle pieces/accessories recovered during the investigation — such as helmets, locks, or seats. … Continue reading »

Tagged , ,

Berkeley 2014 election hub: What you need to know

BUSD administrators will hold budget hearing on March 29 in city council chambers
Print Friendly

Absentee ballots have arrived and the November 2014 election is just around the corner. Berkeleyside has been covering the issues for months, and we’ve collected some of our best Berkeley election coverage in a single post to help readers get informed before they cast their votes.

Browse Berkeleyside’s 2014 election coverage.

Berkeley has several council seats up for grabs, and seven ballot measures under consideration. If you haven’t yet plugged into the local issues on the table, here’s your chance. On election night, we’ll cover the results live, and we plan to keep this hub updated as Nov. 4 approaches. If you think it’s a good resource, we hope you’ll share it with your friends and neighbors.

What else do you need to know?

The deadline to register to vote in Alameda County for the Nov. 4 election is Monday, Oct. 20. Registration can be completed online. Berkeleyside does not endorse candidates or measures.

In addition to our news coverage, a lively debate has been going on in our opinion pages. Berkeleyside welcomes submissions of op-ed articles of 500-800 words. We ask for first refusal to publish. Topics should be Berkeley-related and local authors are preferred. Please email submissions to the editors. … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Crime

Berkeleyside blotter: Crime in Berkeley, Oct. 2-8

Selected calls for service to the Berkeley Police, via CrimeMapping.com. (Scroll down for maps of robberies, burglaries, auto burglaries and auto thefts.) Click the map for the full list. See the map key here.
Print Friendly

This is a partial list of recent crime in Berkeley, compiled by Berkeleyside, and based on reports to the Berkeley Police Department unless otherwise noted. The following items represent a sampling of calls, and times may be approximate.

From Oct. 2-8, there were reports of 25 burglaries33 auto break-ins or thefts from vehicles and eight stolen vehicles, according to CrimeMapping.comSeven robberies27 assaults, domestic violence incidents or batteries and two sexual assaults were reported. Significant incidents from the University of California Police Department included a weapon-related call, a sex crime and a reports of vandalism. These numbers are subject to change. Click the links above for the latest numbers.

We always appreciate photographs and tips, about breaking news or neighborhood safety issues, via email at tips@berkeleyside.com or on Facebook or Twitter; please let us know up front if you prefer to be anonymous.

Thursday, Oct. 2

There was a robbery at 7:05 a.m. in the 2100 block of Shattuck Avenue.

There were three home burglaries: at 10:40 a.m. in the 1800 block of Virginia Street; at noon in the 2100 block of Kittredge Street; and at 1 p.m. in the 1300 block of Virginia. Police arrested Ryan Carrihill, 41, in connection with the incident in the 1300 block of Virginia, on suspicion of burglary and assault with a deadly weapon.

Police responded to three disturbance calls: at 11 a.m. at Sacramento Street and Ashby Avenue; at 9:22 p.m. at Ninth Street and University Avenue; and at 11:20 p.m. in the 2300 block of Haste Street.

A vehicle was stolen at 7:30 p.m. in the 1600 block of Berkeley Way.

A man told the BART Police that his $450 green Windsor Tourist bicycle was stolen while it was cable locked to the bike racks at the Ashby BART station between 5:15 p.m. and 9:50 p.m. … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , ,
Police

Berkeley police rule cyclist responsible for fatal crash

Kurt Wehner. Photo via Facebook
Print Friendly

Authorities have found a 62-year-old Berkeley cyclist at fault for the crash with a vehicle that ultimately took his life about three weeks ago.

In response to repeated inquiries from Berkeleyside, police said Tuesday that Kurt Wehner rode through a stop sign and crashed into a 2008 Volkswagen in a North Berkeley intersection Sept. 21 shortly after 8 a.m. at Spruce and Eunice streets.

Wehner, a longtime Berkeley resident, died the following day at Highland Hospital.

Berkeley police investigators said Tuesday in a prepared statement that Wehner had been riding his mountain-style bike south on Spruce toward Eunice, where there was a posted stop sign for southbound traffic.

“Just prior the bicyclist was passing vehicles on the wrong side of the roadway at an unsafe speed in violation of the posted 25 mph speed limit,” police wrote.

The Volkswagen — driven by a 63-year-old Berkeley resident whose name has not been released — had stopped on Eunice facing east. The driver had proceeded into the intersection when, police say, Wehner crashed into the vehicle.  … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

After community tip, police arrest SF woman tied to violent Berkeley assault

Alleged assailant. Image still: Berkeley Police
Print Friendly

A community member who saw a video of a violent, unprovoked assault in Berkeley in September helped tip off authorities to the assailant’s identity, which led to her arrest, police said Tuesday.

Last week, the Berkeley Police Department asked for the community’s help to find a woman with an overloaded shopping cart who had — for no apparent reason — forcefully shoved an 85-year-old pedestrian to the ground as she walked in downtown Berkeley with a relative on Sept. 23. The woman suffered serious injuries and was taken to the hospital as a result.

As part of its outreach, the department released a security video showing the assault. (A Berkeleyside post of that video has been viewed nearly 4,500 times on YouTube. Other media sources also made it available.)  … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , ,