Author Archives: Emilie Raguso

Crime

5 teens arrested after BB gunshots fired in Berkeley

Berkeley police cruiser (file photo). Photo: Emilie Raguso
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Berkeley police have arrested five people in connection with shots fired last week from someone in a car with a BB gun.

According to Sgt. Andrew Frankel, BPD spokesman, police received several reports of someone shooting a BB gun from a silver sedan early last Tuesday morning, July 19.

Shortly after midnight, there was a report from Channing Way and Ellsworth Street where two people in a car shot someone in the back with what was believed to be a BB gun, according to authorities.

Frankel said that, about 45 minutes after the initial call, a Berkeley Police officer “heard BB gun shots coming from a car that fit the description” provided earlier. … Continue reading »

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Crime

Man charged after chase, stolen van crash in Berkeley

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An Oakland man has been charged with felony car theft and reckless driving during a police chase into Berkeley earlier this month.

Alonzo Choyce, 30, was scheduled to appear in court Tuesday morning for a pretrial hearing.

According to the California Highway Patrol, Choyce was driving a 2016 Ford van at 23rd and Martin Luther King Jr. Way in Oakland around 11 p.m. July 12 when officers tried to stop him for a traffic violation.

Officer Sean Wilkenfeld of the Oakland-area CHP office said Choyce immediately began trying to flee from police, who initiated a pursuit.

After pursuing the Ford for a few blocks, officers discontinued their pursuit due to the suspect’s reckless driving,” he said. “However, other officers spotted the vehicle heading towards the freeway on West Grand and Frontage in Oakland and were able to re-initiate pursuit.”Continue reading »

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Proposed in Berkeley: 50 units in place of Anh Hong

A developer would like to replace Anh Hong with 50 new housing units. Image: Trachtenberg Architects
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A Dublin-based developer has proposed to replace a downtown Berkeley Vietnamese restaurant with a 7-story building featuring 50 housing units and a 1,500-square-foot ground-floor restaurant.

The building, at 2067 University Ave., would have no car parking, but it would provide parking for 48 bikes, according to preliminary project plans submitted to the city. The project site is located just west of Shattuck Avenue and close to the downtown Berkeley BART station.

Read more about housing in Berkeley.

Project architect David Trachtenberg is representing the property owner, identified only as “2067 University Avenue Apartments,” through the city permitting process.

Use permits would be needed to demolish the existing single-story building, construct the new building, reduce side setbacks and reduce the required parking. The project — scheduled for the consent calendar Thursday night before the city’s Zoning Adjustments Board — would need a use permit to reach its proposed height of nearly 75 feet.

The project seeks to use the state “density bonus” to build to that height, which means below-market-rate units would be included on site. … Continue reading »

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Real estate

Proposed in Berkeley: 5 stories, 39 units on San Pablo

The proposal for 2720 San Pablo Ave. Image: Devi Dutta Architecture
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A new proposal has come in, on the former Jered’s Pottery lot, for a 5-story, 39-unit building on San Pablo Avenue in West Berkeley.

The pottery shop, at 2720 San Pablo Ave. between Carleton and Pardee streets, closed last year and moved to Richmond. The property at that time was on sale for $1.4 million; a 4-story 18-unit building had already been approved there.

The major transit corridor has been the focus of much development in recent years, with more changes potentially coming, including a large urgent care facility and hundreds of new apartments approved and proposed.

Scroll down for a round-up of more projects on San Pablo.

A 1-story garage (later used as the pottery studio) would be demolished to make way for the new building, designed by Berkeley-based Devi Dutta Architecture.

According to the applicant statement, the former gas and auto service station would be replaced by a “mixed-use and transit-oriented infill project” that includes ground-floor commercial space under four stories of apartments.  … Continue reading »

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Berkeley police emphasize ‘culture of de-escalation’

Berkeley police practice de-escalation skills during a drill in the old Pyramid brewery. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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Two officers pull up to a house in Berkeley. There’s yelling coming from inside: Roommates are fighting about the rent and police have been dispatched to respond.

As the officers approach, the roommates come outside, still fighting. One of them has a gun. Seeing police, he grabs his roommate, holds him at gunpoint and drags him back inside.

The officers are ordering him to drop the gun but he refuses.

“We want to keep you guys safe,” an officer yells to the man.

“We’re safe. Go find some real shit to do!” the man yells.

“What do you need from us?” asks the officer.

“I need you to leave, bro,” the man replies.

The officers spend several more minutes trying to speak with the man: to have him toss his gun outside, send out his roommate, or provide his phone number so police can call him rather than shouting through the open doorway.

But he doesn’t come out. Instead, a trainer in a red shirt calls “time” and the officers, from the Berkeley Police Department, circle up to discuss the drill. It was one of three scenarios they ran through Thursday inside the vacant Pyramid brewery on Gilman Street in West Berkeley.

The goal of the training was to practice using verbal de-escalation tactics instead of force. It’s an approach the department already prides itself on using on a daily basis. But, as police shootings and use of force continue to draw increased scrutiny nationwide, the department says it is stepping up its efforts to ensure officers use those skills in Berkeley whenever possible.

“The Berkeley Police Department has a culture of de-escalation,” said Sgt. Spencer Fomby, a BPD use of force instructor and a leader on its tactical team. “We look at things differently. We try to take a different approach. You can tell by the outcomes that that is our goal.” … Continue reading »

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Crime

Berkeley crime log: Sex offender arrested after stalking, homeless man charged in baseball bat assault, more

Selected calls to the Berkeley Police, via CrimeMapping.com. Scroll down for detailed maps. Click the map above for the list. (Click "show crime report" to see the list.) See the map key here.
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This overview of recent crime in Berkeley is based on reports to the Berkeley Police unless otherwise noted. Share photos, videos and tips by emailing crime@berkeleyside.com or on Facebook and TwitterDon’t assume someone else will alert us. We rely on readers to help us stay informed.

SNAPSHOT From June 30 to July 6, there were reports of nine robberiesfive burglaries10 assaults or batteriesthree weapon-involved calls and one sexual assault, according to CrimeMapping.com. There were also 13 stolen vehicles15 disturbances and 25 auto break-ins or thefts from vehicles reported. A sex crime, a vehicle theft and a vandalism, among other crimes, were reported on CrimeMapping to the University of California Police Department (UCPD); we’ve filled out the blotter with tidbits from the UCPD crime log. Arrested or charged individuals are presumed innocent. Find the June 30 to July 6 round-up below.

Recent public safety news

ANOTHER STOLEN CATALYTIC CONVERTER A thief stole a catalytic converter from a 2008 Honda Element parked at the North Berkeley BART station between 7:15 a.m. and 7:10 p.m. Wednesday, July 13, the BART PD reports. It may be the first time since February this type of theft has been reported at a Berkeley station. (Berkeleyside broke the news at that time of a series of similar thefts impacting people who were parking at East Bay BART stations.) The BART PD arrested two people in March it believed was responsible for multiple incidents of catalytic converter theft. Catalytic converters are a target for thieves because they contain precious metals — including platinum, palladium and rhodium. In addition, their location makes them relatively easy to steal.

DISTURBANCE ARREST AT ASHBY BART A man detained by the BART Police on suspicion of creating a disturbance at the Ashby station July 9 shortly before 5 p.m. was found to have two outstanding misdemeanor vandalism warrants. The arrest warrants, out of San Francisco, totaled $17,000 in bail. The man was placed under arrest and booked into the county jail. His name was not immediately available. … Continue reading »

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Crime

Berkeley crime log: Probation search nets loaded gun, ID and fraud arrests, animal shelter burglary, more

Police said they found this loaded gun during a probation search earlier this week. Photo: BPD
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This overview of recent crime in Berkeley is based on reports to the Berkeley Police unless otherwise noted. Share photos, videos and tips by emailing crime@berkeleyside.com or on Facebook and TwitterDon’t assume someone else will alert us. We rely on readers to help us stay informed.

SNAPSHOT From June 23-29, there were reports of six robberiesseven burglaries24 assaults or batteriesone weapon-involved call and no sexual assaults, according to CrimeMapping.com. There were also 14 stolen vehicles14 disturbances and 26 auto break-ins or thefts from vehicles reported. Two robberies, two vehicle thefts and an assault, among other crimes, were reported on CrimeMapping to the University of California Police Department (UCPD); we’ve filled out the blotter with tidbits from the UCPD crime log. Arrested or charged individuals are presumed innocent. Find the June 23-29 round-up below.

Recent public safety news

PROBATION SEARCH NETS LOADED PISTOL Berkeley police arrested an Oakland man earlier this week after they stopped him for a vehicle code violation and found a loaded pistol under his seat, authorities report. The car stop took place Wednesday, July 13, at 11:25 p.m. in the 2100 block of Kittredge, said Lt. Kevin Schofield, a Berkeley Police spokesman, in response to a Berkeleyside query. The driver, Aaron Davis, had no valid driver’s license and was on probation, said Schofield. Police searched the vehicle and found the loaded gun. Davis was taken to Berkeley Jail and booked on suspicion of several firearm-related felonies and probation violation. He is scheduled for a hearing to revoke his probation Monday, according to online records from the Alameda County sheriff’s office. He remains in custody at Santa Rita Jail with a bail of $105,000. … Continue reading »

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Man kisses 2 UC Berkeley students without consent; police seek other victims

Memorial Glade is a popular spot on the UC Berkeley campus (file photo). Photo: Daniel Parks
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Police are looking for a man who kissed at least two UC Berkeley summer school students without consent and may have groped one of them over her clothing.

The University of California Police Department put out a safety alert Wednesday afternoon about the sexual battery case, which took place in Memorial Glade on Tuesday, July 5.

According to the notice, police have identified a person of interest. He is described as a white man, about 50 years old “who may seem younger in appearance.” He looked to be 5 feet 9 inches tall and 135 pounds, with brown hair and brown or hazel eyes.

“Some might have observed his prominent cheekbones and/or noticeably dark beard stubble on his face. He was possibly dressed in a casual manner and carrying a camera, skateboard and/or backpack,” UCPD reported.

Police are trying to find out if there may have been other victims.

UCPD asks anyone with more information “or who experienced a similar incident on or near the UC Berkeley campus (whether on July 5, 2016 or another day)” to call or visit the UC Berkeley Police Department. … Continue reading »

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Nurses, officials voice concerns about Alta Bates changes

Nurses are leading the charge to "Save Alta Bates." They rallied at Old City Hall on Tuesday night. Photo: Andy Katz
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“We have a real problem and it’s a regional problem,” said Mayor Tom Bates on Tuesday night amid a brief discussion by the Berkeley City Council related to plans by Sutter Health to move inpatient services to Oakland, leaving Berkeley services focused on outpatient care.

Council voted unanimously in support of a resolution to oppose “plans to cease operations at Alta Bates.” Berkeleyside first reported on the potential closure of Alta Bates in April 2015.

Sutter Health said in a July 12 memo to the city that state seismic laws “require us to reevaluate the inpatient, acute care services at Berkeley’s Alta Bates campus before 2030.” According to the memo, “rebuilding on the current site is not feasible.”

Sutter Health says it remains “committed to a strong medical presence” in Berkeley as the “center for outpatient care in the East Bay.”  … Continue reading »

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Crime

Crime calls: Gunfire on Stuart, battery arrest, psych eval

Readers often ask Berkeleyside about public safety incidents, like this arrest on Milvia Street on Tuesday. Photo: Jeannie Choe
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Berkeleyside got several questions Tuesday about police activity in town, including an investigation into gunfire on Stuart Street that damaged a vehicle, an arrest downtown after a fight, and an agitated man who ended up being taken for a psychiatric evaluation in South Berkeley.

The Berkeley Police Department responded at about 8:40 p.m. to the 1900 block of Stuart Street, said Lt. Dan Montgomery, weeknight watch commander. There had been reports of possible gunfire.

Officers found no victims, but they did discover one vehicle that had been hit three times by gunfire and left at the scene. … Continue reading »

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City of Berkeley fined nearly $100K after longtime worker ‘fatally crushed’ by garbage truck

Johnny Tolliver, who worked for Berkeley's Zero Waste division, died Monday after he was hit by a city garbage truck. Photo: Tolliver family
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A state agency has fined the city of Berkeley nearly $100,000 after a worker was crushed by his garbage truck in the Berkeley Hills in January, according to a recently concluded report obtained by Berkeleyside on Tuesday.

Johnny Tolliver Sr., 52, was working as part of a two-person team collecting trash when their truck lost its brakes and rolled, pinning Tolliver against a utility pole in January, according to preliminary reports. Although Tolliver was conscious and talking at the scene, at 90 Parnassus Road, he died later that day at Highland Hospital of his injuries. He had worked for the city for more than 25 years.

Scroll down to see the city response.

Tolliver was “fatally crushed” as he tried to stop his truck from rolling down the hill on Parnassus, according to the June report from the state Division of Occupational Safety and Health, or Cal/OSHA.

The agency, which is charged with investigating workplace safety issues and on-the-job fatalities, found the city responsible for three accident-related penalties categorized as “serious.” Each carries a fine of $22,500. Three other general penalties categorized as “serious” carry fines of more than $8,400 each, and a fourth serious violation has a listed fine of more than $5,000, according to the June 22 report. … Continue reading »

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Crime

Berkeley crime log: Man threatens to shoot BART agent, 2 stabbed near farmers market, tragic drowning of teen

Selected calls to the Berkeley Police, via CrimeMapping.com. Scroll down for detailed maps. Click the map above for the list. (Click "show crime report" to see the list.) See the map key here.
Print Friendly

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

SNAPSHOT From June 16-22, there were reports of six robberies14 burglaries16 assaults or batteriesfour weapon-involved calls and one sexual assault, according to CrimeMapping.com. There were also 14 stolen vehicles16 disturbances and 39 auto break-ins or thefts from vehicles reported. A vandalism and a weapons call, among other crimes, were reported on CrimeMapping to the University of California Police Department (UCPD); we’ve filled out the blotter with tidbits from the UCPD crime log. Arrested or charged individuals are presumed innocent. Find the June 16-22 round-up below.

Recent public safety news

CRIMINAL THREATS, PSYCH EVAL AT BART A man who threatened to shoot a station agent at the downtown Berkeley BART station was arrested last week, July 6, and taken for a psychiatric evaluation. The agent told the BART Police the man, after fare evading, had threatened to shoot him at about 10:25 p.m.: “As the officer prepared to transport him to jail, however, the suspect physically resisted and refused to be placed in a patrol car. The officer, joined by an assisting officer, used physical force/control holds to restrain the suspect, who also made verbal threats to harm himself. Paramedics responded and eventually transported the suspect to a local hospital, along with a police hold, for a psychiatric evaluation; he was also issued a prohibition order.” No injuries were sustained by anyone involved with the arrest, the BART Police reported. (No further information was available because the case number did not appear linked to any active case with the district attorney’s office, according to available online records from the Alameda County sheriff’s office.) 

DNA LINKS MAN TO 2008 SEXUAL ASSAULT SERIES The Berkeley Police Department has linked a series of sexual assaults and prowling cases from 2008 to a Berkeley man who would have been 16 at the time of the attacks, authorities report. Police announced the arrest last week of 24-year-old Johnny Dunbar. After collecting his fingerprints for the first time when he was stopped in connection with a traffic violation in March, investigators discovered that his prints matched a palm print left at a 2008 rape scene, police said. Further testing, of Dunbar’s DNA, also tied him to multiple sexual assaults, according to authorities. Police said Dunbar would break into his victims’ homes and threaten them with a knife or gun before sexually assaulting them. Dunbar is being held without bail at Santa Rita Jail. He is scheduled to enter a plea Monday, July 18, according to sheriff’s office records. … Continue reading »

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Crime

Man arrested at BART after knife threats, shirt burning

A man died earlier this week after passing out at the Ashby BART station. Photo: Michael Patrick
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A man who set his shirt on fire after threatening people on a BART train with a knife was arrested in Berkeley late Monday afternoon, authorities report.

According to a brief notice released by the BART Police on Monday night, the man was riding a Fremont-bound train when he began to threaten people with the knife.

BART officers responded to the Ashby station, at 3100 Adeline St., to intercept the train and detain the man at about 4:40 p.m.

According to BART, the man got off the train at Ashby, then set his shirt on fire on the platform.

When he left the platform, a train operator was able to extinguish the flames. (BART PD clarified after publication that the man was not wearing the shirt when he set it on fire.)

Officers found the man and took him into custody at gunpoint, according to the BART Police.  … Continue reading »

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