Author Archives: Emilie Raguso


2 arrested after South Berkeley carjacking

This replica gun was used during a Berkeley carjacking over the weekend. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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Police arrested two Oakland men, including a parolee, after a carjacking in South Berkeley late Thursday night.

According to the Berkeley Police Department, a 24-year-old Los Angeles woman had parked her car just before midnight in the 2100 block of Prince Street when three men approached her. One of them had what appeared to be a gun.

They told her to get back into her car,” said Sgt. Andrew Frankel, Berkeley Police spokesman. “The victim dropped her purse, cell phone, car keys, and ran. The suspects picked up her property and fled the area in her vehicle.”

Minutes later, a Berkeley officer on patrol spotted the vehicle in the Southside neighborhood and pursued it.

The chase ended at Halcyon Court and Prince Street when the two men in the vehicle ran. Both were detained and arrested.

Police found a replica firearm inside the vehicle. Continue reading »

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Election 2016 Berkeley: Spotlight on District 2, District 3

Appearing in ballot order, top row from left, District 2 candidates: Cheryl Davila, Nanci Armstrong-Temple, Darryl Moore. Bottom row, from left: Mark Coplan, Al Murray, Deborah Matthews, Ben Bartlett. Photos: Courtesy
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Berkeleyside wants to help you get to know your 2016 candidates for Berkeley City Council, School Board and Rent Stabilization Board. This week, we plan to publish questionnaires with the candidates daily at 11 a.m.

In coming weeks, we’ll have stories on all the key Berkeley races and initiatives that will be on the ballot, and hope to help readers make informed decisions about the potential leaders and policies that could help shape Berkeley’s future.

See all local 2016 coverage on Berkeleyside.

To kick off, questionnaires for the District 2 and District 3 City Council races follow. We asked candidates why they were running, what sets them apart, what the city’s biggest challenges are and how they hope to solve them. Learn what each candidate thinks is her or his most inspired idea, and how each candidate plans to be accountable and accessible to constituents. Each questionnaire includes complete campaign info, including social media pages, to help readers connect.

Each race below also includes a PDF grid to help readers compare responses side by side. And don’t forget: The deadline to register to vote in Alameda County for the Nov. 8 election is Monday, Oct. 24. … Continue reading »

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Protesters criticize Berkeley homeless services center

A group of protesters is criticizing the way the city of Berkeley is handling assistance for people experiencing homelessness. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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Occupants of a protest camp outside the city of Berkeley’s homeless services intake center in South Berkeley this week criticized the way the city is allocating aid to people on the streets.

Campers have reportedly moved on, as of Friday morning, but the issues they raised remain.

The occupation, organized by a city commissioner as well as the grassroots First They Came for the Homeless group — which had a protest camp outside the downtown Berkeley post office for more than 17 months — set up Monday and planned to stay at least through the weekend to make its point.

According to a Facebook post by one of the organizers, however, there was a city raid Friday morning and the camp is now gone.

A dozen or so protesters set up tents on the sidewalk outside the city’s Coordinated Entry System, run by the Berkeley Food & Housing Project, at 1901 Fairview St. Also known as “The Hub,” the center is just east of Adeline Street and a few blocks from the Ashby BART station.

Protesters have said the center is disorganized, that it’s too difficult to get help and that people are being sent out of the area for housing. They have also said the city should be spending its money differently, and would prefer a place to set up tents or tiny houses rather than the approach the city is currently taking.

“That’s where people are supposed to help people out here and they’re not doing it,” said Daniel McMullan III, a longtime community advocate who has fought for disabled people and others who find themselves on the streets. “You try to go through channels all the way but, if that doesn’t work, the only thing that works after that is publicly embarrassing the agency.” … Continue reading »

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Felarca supporters shut down School Board meeting

Yvette Felarca during Wednesday night's board meeting. Image: BUSD
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A roomful of supporters of Berkeley teacher Yvette Felarca — who was placed on paid leave by the district last month — demanded during Wednesday night’s School Board meeting that she be returned to her classroom immediately and taken off leave.

Supporters, including young students as well as parents and other adults, took turns at the mic during public comment for items not on the agenda. Their message was unified: “We stand with Ms. Felarca.” When the board president attempted to move on to other items, supporters shouted her down and insisted the board take a stand.

The public outcry prompted the board to move into closed session for more than 30 minutes before it returned to the dais to continue its meeting.

A video of the disruption appears below.

More than a dozen people spoke before the board Wednesday night to say Felarca is an excellent teacher who focuses on helping students learn how to stand up for themselves and stand up for their rights.

Speakers told the board the district should support Felarca, not punish her.

“We will not let Donald Trump run this district,” said one woman. “Stop conceding to these racist attacks.… She needs to be back now.

And Felarca herself addressed the board: “Return me to my classroom tomorrow because I want to teach,” she said, adding that the board needs to act fast to reverse the “grave errors that have been made.” … Continue reading »

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Police disarm suicidal prowler with knife after standoff

Police activity on Dohr and Russell on Tuesday morning. Photo: Kester Allen
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A 50-year-old Berkeley man who threatened to kill himself as he held a knife to his throat surrendered to officers early Tuesday morning after about six hours with a police negotiator, authorities said.

The standoff began in the 2900 block of Dohr Street, near Russell Street, just before 4 a.m. Tuesday, said Berkeley Police spokesman Sgt. Andrew Frankel.

Dispatch got a call at that time about a suspicious person or prowler, and officers responded. When police tried to speak with the man, said Frankel, he “pulled out a knife and held it to his own throat and threatened suicide.”

One local resident noticed two fire engines and four police cruisers at Dohr and Russell around 6:50 a.m., and asked Berkeleyside to find out what was going on. By about 7:10 a.m., there were seven police cruisers on the scene. Three hours later, there were three fire engines and 10 police cruisers, he estimated.

Said another neighborhood resident, on Twitter, “we were woken up at 4am by what sounded like someone in the area having a mental break.” … Continue reading »

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Cyclist sustains serious injuries after vehicle crash

A cyclist was taken to the hospital with serious injuries after a crash with a motorist Tuesday. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel
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Update, Thursday, 1:30 p.m. BPD is looking for witnesses to the crash. Authorities ask anyone who saw the collision to call Sgt. Emily Murphy at 510-981-5982 or email her at

The cyclist remains in the Intensive Care Unit, BPD reports.

Update, Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2 p.m. The cyclist, a 25-year-old Berkeley man, remains in the ICU, authorities report. (Berkeley Police originally erroneously told Berkeleyside the cyclist was a woman.)

Update, 8 p.m. BPD traffic investigators have left the scene.

Update, 6:50 p.m. Berkeley investigators remain on Sacramento Street working to document the scene after a crash earlier Tuesday that caused serious injuries to a cyclist. Several blocks of northbound Sacramento remain closed. … Continue reading »

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Update: Pipe repair may not be done before commute

EBMUD workers repair a broken water main at University Avenue and Grant Street, in Berkeley, on Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2016. Photo: David Yee
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Update, Wednesday, Oct. 5, 5:28 a.m. EBMUD says water should be back on for customers by about 8 a.m., according to the latest info, “however work in the street will continue as we work with the city of Berkeley to facilitate coordination of other underground utilities.”

Update, Oct. 5, 4:15 a.m. EBMUD reports: “University Avenue down to one lane but open; Grant is closed. Crews are working now to install the new pipe however we have some utility coordination to do with the city of Berkeley. We are all working to get the customers’ water service back on and the street opened as quickly as we can. Right now it’s unclear if the road will be fully open in time for the morning commute.”

Scroll down for photos and video from the scene.

Update, 5 p.m. EBMUD is now estimating that repairs to a pipe that broke in Berkeley will be done by 2 a.m. Wednesday. The 83-year-old cast iron main was reported to have burst at 12:35 p.m., according to a statement released by the agency just before 5 p.m. Berkeleyside has been reporting updates since 12:41 p.m.

Traffic in the area, on University Avenue and nearby, continues to be disrupted in both directions, and detours are in place. … Continue reading »

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After hit-and-run, victims chase suspect vehicle into Berkeley, then overturn after crash

Image: Google Maps
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Firefighters had to extricate a mother and daughter from their overturned vehicle in North Berkeley after they followed another car that hit them, causing property damage, on Monday afternoon, authorities said.

According to Sgt. Andrew Frankel, Berkeley Police spokesman, the first collision happened around noon Monday somewhere between Berkeley and San Pablo.

The mother and daughter were hit, then followed the other vehicle — a late-model blue station wagon that may have been a VW or a Volvo — southbound on San Pablo Avenue.

When the blue vehicle turned left on Camelia Street, then left on Stannage Avenue, the mother and daughter chased them, police said. That’s when the second crash happened. … Continue reading »

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Update: Berkeley church says 3-alarm fire caused by roof work, crews still on scene, streets closed

Fire on Channing at the First Congregational Church. Photo: Ted Friedman
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Update, 5 p.m. Authorities say 94 children and 14 staffers were evacuated during Friday’s three-alarm fire at the First Congregational Church on Channing Way in Berkeley.

The fire was declared under control at 3:20 p.m. but had not been extinguished, Berkeley Fire Chief Gil Dong said during a 4 p.m. briefing. Firefighters were still working to put out hotspots.

He said crews would remain on scene throughout the evening and into tomorrow.

Scroll down for photographs of the fire shared by many community members.

Dong said the cause of the fire remains unknown and the investigation could not be carried out until the conditions are safe. He said Channing Way and Durant Avenue will be blocked off tomorrow, and could affect traffic for the scheduled Cal football game.

Dong said authorities are concerned about potential collapses, particularly in the chimney.  … Continue reading »

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Richmond police chase ends in Berkeley with crash, arrest

A car crashed on the basketball court at Strawberry Creek Park during a police chase Thursday. Photo: Citizen reporter
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Update, 1:25 a.m. Authorities have just confirmed this incident began in Richmond at around 10:35 p.m.

“Richmond PD officers were attempting to stop a vehicle. The suspect vehicle turned onto a dead end street and made an abrupt u-turn. The suspect vehicle then rammed her car into a marked RPD patrol car and fled,” Lt. Felix Tan, RPD spokesman, told Berkeleyside.

Police pursued the car into Berkeley where the chase ended at Bonar and Bancroft. All three occupants were taken into custody and no weapons were found. Tan said the officer was not injured but the patrol car had moderate damage.

Tan also said the driver was an adult female, and she was the only one booked on suspicion of the assault on the officer. He said RPD does not generally release the names of individuals who are arrested.

Update, 11:55 p.m. BPD tells us this is a Richmond case; no further information was available. Berkeleyside will attempt to learn more.

Update, 11:44 p.m. The neighborhood tipster tells Berkeleyside at least one of the people detained after the chase lives on the block.

He said he heard what sounded like loud reports during the pursuit: “If there wasn’t gunfire, then someone was setting off a lot of fireworks in the last 30 seconds of the chase. It was a very loud and distinct POP POP POP POP POP POP POP really quickly before everyone got out of their cars.” … Continue reading »

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Sentencing postponed again in Berkeley murder; convicted accomplice disputes identity of killer

Carroll, at right, seen here with brothers Jermaine and Charles Davis, both of whom have since been killed in fatal shootings. Photo: Coleon Carroll/FB
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The attorney for a 27-year-old man found guilty earlier this year of a 2010 murder in Berkeley has filed a motion for retrial and plans to bring in new testimony from a convicted accomplice in the case to dispute her client’s guilt.

Coleon Carroll entered a no contest plea for voluntary manslaughter in February after authorities identified him as the getaway driver in the murder of Gary Ferguson Jr. and the attempted murder of Larry Belle as they talked on Sacramento Street in South Berkeley one morning about six years ago.

An Alameda County Superior Court jury found Brandon Wallace of Pittsburg guilty in March of being a shooter in that murder. The guilty verdict means he could spend more than 50 years in prison.

Read complete coverage of the case.

But Wallace’s sentencing has been delayed repeatedly since his conviction for murder, attempted murder and unlawful possession of a firearm March 21. A prior sentencing hearing was postponed because Wallace’s father was reportedly working out of state and wanted to attend.

Thursday, the hearing was postponed again, and it now won’t take place before Dec. 1.

Defense attorney Bonnie Narby told Judge Jon Rolefson she plans to bring in Carroll to say it was actually another man — his deceased cousin Jermaine Davis — who was at the shooting scene. (Davis and Wallace both had dreadlocks at the time of the murder.) Narby argued during Wallace’s trial that he was in another city during the Berkeley murder and was not the man responsible for it.

Authorities have said Wallace was shot accidentally by an accomplice during Ferguson’s murder, which they said was evident on surveillance footage of the killing. And his blood was found soaked into the front seat of the getaway vehicle. … Continue reading »

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Update: ‘Family march’ set for Thursday is canceled

Family March for Safe Streets route. Image: FMSS
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Update, Sept. 29, 9:45 a.m. The family march has been canceled due to a conflict with another event and some community pushback about the focus of the march. (The organizer has asked the community to attend the other event instead.) See the organizer’s statement about the cancelation in the comments at the bottom of this story.

Original post, Sept. 28: Two local mothers were spurred into action this week to organize a “family march” in South Berkeley after several incidents of gun violence in the neighborhood, one of which killed a 19-year-old man.

The “Family March for Safe Streets” is set to take place Thursday, Sept. 29, from 5:30-6:30 p.m. Participants can meet at Sweet Adeline Bakeshop, 3350 Adeline St., beginning at 5 p.m. There will be free glow-stick necklaces for the first 50 children, and free glow-bracelets for the next 100.

Despite tonsillitis, South Berkeley resident and co-organizer Heather Zadig spoke before the Berkeley City Council during public comment for items not on the agenda on Tuesday night to alert the community to the march. The event, which is “not a protest,” is meant to help bring the community together and raise awareness about the recent shootings.

“They’re awful. They’re frequent,” she said to council, and said a number of local parents are concerned. “We’re moving our kids’ bedrooms away from the front of the street because there are sirens going by and waking them up in terror every night.” … Continue reading »

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Police on scene after person stabbed in West Berkeley

San Pablo and Gilman. Image: Google Maps
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A person was stabbed in West Berkeley shortly before 9 p.m., police say, but is expected to survive.

Berkeley Police watch commander Lt. Mike Durbin said officers responded to the stabbing, at Gilman Street and San Pablo Avenue, and remain on the scene taking witness statements and continuing to investigate.

The victim was taken to a local hospital by paramedics but is in stable condition and expected to survive, he said.

Durbin said there is no reason to think the stabbing was related in any way to recent incidents of gun violence in South Berkeley.  … Continue reading »

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