Author Archives: Emilie Raguso


Breaking: 2 injured in shooting at Berkeley park

Police are on the scene after a shooting at the Strawberry Creek Park basketball courts. Photo: Citizen reporter
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Update, 4:56 p.m. BPD clarified that one of the victims turned up at the North Berkeley BART station and was then taken to the hospital. None of the injuries appeared, according to the preliminary investigation, to be life-threatening. No arrests have been made.

Original story, 3:24 p.m. Two people have been injured in a shooting at Strawberry Creek Park in Berkeley, authorities report.

According to a witness at the scene, the gunfire took place at about 3:10 p.m. at the park’s basketball courts.

He said 15-20 high-school-aged kids got into a fight. Three gunshots were fired and everyone scattered.

“Someone screamed that they were hit, but no one is left on the scene,” he said. Berkeleyside is not releasing his name due to safety concerns. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley High grad remembered at vigil; mother, former BUSD teacher, was also killed

Photo: Benny Wright/Facebook
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A recent Berkeley High graduate who was killed last week in Oakland along with his mothers was remembered Monday during a vigil on campus.

About 100 people came together to remember Benny Wright, 19, who graduated from the BHS Academy of Medicine and Public Service (AMPS) learning community in June. Benny’s mother, former BUSD teacher Patricia Wright, and her partner, Charlotte Reed, were also killed.

Monday, vigil organizers passed out candles and invited attendees to share their memories and thoughts about Benny Wright.

“Benny’s brother (home from school in Mississippi) spoke first for nearly 15 minutes about Benny’s spirit of love and joy and about how he had already forgiven the assailant,” said teacher John Tobias, who helps run AMPS, along with Claudia Gonzalez.

Tobias said Benny, according to his brother, had been deciding whether to become a hairdresser or a nurse.

“He always wanted to make people feel better. Other students and teachers spoke about Benny’s unwavering smile being able to light up a room,” Tobias said. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley police arrest 2 in stolen car with guns, drugs

Photo: BPD
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Police officers arrested an El Sobrante man and a Kensington woman Monday night in the Berkeley Marina after being alerted to the stolen BMW the pair happened to be sitting in, authorities report.

Police found guns and drugs in the car, and arrested the pair in connection with them, along with other alleged violations.

Monday at 10:20 p.m., Berkeley police dispatchers learned of the stolen BMW, which appeared to be parked in a lot at the marina, according to a brief statement from police Tuesday afternoon.

Two officers found the BMW in the O Dock parking lot at the marina, and saw two people sitting inside.

Police detained them and found them to be on felony probation for identity theft. Due to their probation status, police were able to search them, according to the BPD statement.

During the search, police found two handguns, 1.25 grams of suspected methamphetamine, meth smoking paraphernalia, credit cards, checks, consumer profiles, and mail belonging to several victims, according to BPD.

Police identified the vehicle occupants as 25-year-old Travis Penaluna of El Sobrante and 32-year-old Christina Taylor of Kensington. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley crash sends cyclist to Highland

Photo: Citizen reporter
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Update, Nov. 15, 1:56 p.m. BFD has confirmed that a male cyclist who was not wearing a helmet was struck by a car Monday night. He “had a possible significant injury,” authorities said. The Berkeley Fire Department took him to the hospital.

BPD said the cyclist “was conscious and alert” after the crash. Berkeleyside will attempt to learn more.

Original post, Nov. 14, 8:47 p.m. Berkeleyside is getting reports of a crash involving a cyclist and vehicle shortly after 8 p.m. at University and McGee avenues in central Berkeley.

“One victim, presumably the bicyclist, on way to hospital. Don’t know how serious. I was just nearby when sirens filled the air,” one reader told Berkeleyside at 8:10 p.m.

The cyclist was reportedly taken to Highland Hospital.

Another reader said the crash took place on westbound University just east of McGee. … Continue reading »

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Update: Davila expands lead in District 2, next results expected Wednesday

Photo: Courtesy of Cheryl Davila
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Update, Monday, Nov. 14, 5:43 p.m. Cheryl Davila has increased her lead in City Council District 2, from 50.77% Friday to 50.82% Monday. Nearly 100 votes now separate her from incumbent Darryl Moore after Nanci Armstrong-Temple’s votes were allocated to each candidate. The Registrar of Voters continued until today to accept ballots postmarked by Tuesday, Nov. 8, but Davila has increased her lead each time votes are tallied and the ranked-choice voting algorithm runs.

Since Friday, the Alameda County Registrar of Voters has tallied at least 13,100 more Berkeley ballots. Roughly 53,000 have been tallied total from the city.

Update, 6:15 p.m. After the ranked-choice algorithm ran, District 2 candidate Cheryl Davila’s lead increased slightly, from 50.58% early Wednesday morning to 50.77% on Friday evening, or 2,200 votes to incumbent Darryl Moore’s 2,133. Davila’s lead increased from 42 to 67 votes. In 2012, voters in District 2 cast about 5,800 votes, meaning there could be another 1,400 or so votes still to count in the race, if the past is any indication.

Overall turnout for the county is up 5 points to about 49%. The Registrar of Voters has estimated there are still about 212,000 votes to count in Alameda County, with about 437,000 already counted. Overall turnout would end up around 73% if his estimates prove accurate. … Continue reading »

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Update: Man escapes police after Berkeley robbery

A Berkeley Police cruiser blocked traffic at Addison and McGee as part of  operation. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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Update, Nov. 11, 6 a.m. According to scanner recordings reviewed by Berkeleyside, police initially were called to the Berkeley Bowl parking lot — at 2020 Oregon St. — for a report of a man in his 50s who pulled a gun on a security guard after leaving the grocery store with a sandwich. He walked away on Russell Street carrying a red lululemon bag, which police ultimately recovered, according to unconfirmed scanner reports.

Police called in a search dog from Emeryville PD to help find the man, but he ultimately got away.

Berkeleyside will update this post if more info comes in.

Update, 8:05 p.m. Police Lt. Mike Durbin told Berkeleyside, “Officers are still on scene processing evidence that was located during the block search. Suspect was not located.”

Original post, 7:30 p.m. Berkeley police are on the scene in South Berkeley looking for a man with a gun tied to a robbery between 5 and 6 p.m., according to authorities and community reports.

BPD watch commander Lt. Mike Durbin said officers are searching for an armed robbery suspect.

“We are asking residents and vehicles to stay out of the area of Ashby – Prince – Ellis – Harper, and for residents in that block to shelter in their homes and call us if they see or hear anything,” Durbin said. … Continue reading »

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Thieves target Berkeley Apple store twice this week

The Berkeley Apple store. Photo: TJ Gehling
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A group of thieves stole an estimated 50 electronic devices from the Berkeley Apple store Tuesday night, and the store was hit again Thursday afternoon around 3 p.m., with a smaller group taking an estimated 20 devices, authorities report.

Limited information was available because the reports are not yet complete, but the Berkeley Police Department was alerted just after 8 p.m. Tuesday that a group of eight males in their late teens or early 20s ran into the Fourth Street Apple shop and stole numerous items. (The shop closes at 8 p.m.)

The store is located at 1823 Fourth St. in Berkeley’s popular Fourth Street shopping district.

Thursday afternoon, while Berkeleyside was on the phone with BPD shortly after 3 p.m., another report came in about a group of four people who had just gone into the store and stolen an estimated 20 devices, according to preliminary information.

Berkeley Police spokesman Sgt. Andrew Frankel said the incidents are considered grand theft, which is a felony.  … Continue reading »

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Berkeley police warn community about robbery spree

Source: Google Maps/Berkeleyside
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In just 20 minutes, there were two pedestrian robberies, and one attempt, in Berkeley on Wednesday night, and police are warning the community to be on the lookout for the trio believed to be responsible for them. In two of the incidents, victims were punched while their property was taken, according to police and community reports.

The incidents took place from about 9:10 to 9:30 p.m. Wednesday, beginning in South Berkeley and moving up into North Berkeley.

Police did not release a lot of detail about the alleged robbers, but said — in two of the cases — they were described as two black women and one black man, all of whom appeared to be in their late teens or early 20s. (No suspect information was available in the other case.)

“Based on the descriptions of the suspects, their close geographic and temporal proximity, investigators believe that the incidents are related,” according to a Nixle alert released by BPD early Thursday afternoon.  … Continue reading »

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Serious crash injures 5 in North Berkeley

A car crash injured five people in North Berkeley on Thursday. Photo: BFD
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Five people were taken to Highland Hospital on Thursday after a crash involving two or three vehicles in North Berkeley, authorities report.

According to Berkeley Police spokesman Sgt. Andrew Frankel, one vehicle hit the other and pushed it into a tree. Two vehicles are being towed from the scene, he said.

The crash took place at Marin and Shattuck avenues shortly before 12:20 p.m.

Frankel said four ambulances were dispatched and two people were taken to Highland Hospital, the regional trauma center in Oakland, according to preliminary reports.

Deputy Fire Chief Donna McCracken said the crash involved three vehicles, and that five people were taken to Highland. … Continue reading »

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Protests in Berkeley, Oakland over Trump election

A protester holds a "Not my president" sign after Donald Trump was elected Tuesday. Photo: Daniel McPartlan
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Update, 10:45 p.m. About 150 people remain in downtown Oakland on Wednesday night after a huge protest earlier in the evening that included hundreds of people who marched from UC Berkeley to join in.

According to the Oakland Police Department, the crowd grew to 7,000 people after an initial rally at Frank Ogawa Plaza that began with a couple hundred participants at 4:40 p.m.

OPD said its officers initially “facilitated” the march through downtown, but smaller groups would at times splinter off from the crowd to vandalize businesses.

See Berkeleyside tweets from the protest.

According to OPD, “the crowd began assaulting officers” shortly after 8 p.m.: “The assaults included rocks, bottles, fireworks, M-80s, and Molotov cocktails. At this time, it was declared an unlawful assembly and announcements were made. One CS blast device was deployed to the general area of the crowd in attempt to deter the crowd from continuing to assault the officers. Simultaneously, mutual aid was requested from neighboring law enforcement agencies.”

One of those agencies was BPD.

OPD said, as of about 10:30 p.m., there had been multiple arrests and multiple citations in connection with “assaults on officers, vandalism (including looting of businesses, broken windows, graffiti, lighting objects on fire), and failure to disperse.”

One Oakland police officer was injured. OPD said it knew of no injuries to protesters.  Scroll down to see the original story. … Continue reading »

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Election 2016: Who will represent North Berkeley next?

District 5, from left: Sophie Hahn, Stephen Murphy. Photos: Courtesy
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With 12-year District 5 Councilman Laurie Capitelli setting his sights on the mayor’s seat, Sophie Hahn and Stephen Murphy have gone head to head this election season to convince the community who will lead North Berkeley best.

Hahn is a former attorney and small businesswoman who was appointed to the city’s Zoning Adjustments Board more than six years ago by Berkeley Councilman Kriss Worthington. She’s fiercely analytic and is known on the board for her comprehensive feedback. It will be Hahn’s third time running for the District 5 seat, having lost to Capitelli in 2012 with about 46% of the vote, short about 700 ballots.

Murphy, also an attorney, is a family justice advocate with the Alameda County Family Justice Center, which offers help to survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. Capitelli appointed Murphy to the Planning Commission and also the Commission on the Status of Women (of which Hahn was formerly a member, though they didn’t serve at the same time).

Hahn has a higher profile in the community due to her prior council runs, and her work on the zoning board and other community efforts. Her critics, she notes, have called her obstructionist, which she believes to be a gross mischaracterization. She says she has approved more than 2,500 units of housing during her time on the zoning board.

But she has also voted against or chosen not to support projects that did not meet her standards. In April, as one example, she abstained from a vote on a 107-unit project downtown that had no public speakers in opposition because she felt it should, under the law, have one additional affordable housing unit. (The project was still approved.)

She was also one of the authors, with Councilman Jesse Arreguín, who is running for mayor, of the failed 2014 Measure R campaign, which sought to strengthen regulations around green building and labor. Its critics said it would have halted development because it would have made building in Berkeley too expensive. (Hahn disagrees.) It was rejected by a 74% vote and failed in nearly every precinct. Murphy says he ran the ground campaign to oppose that measure. … Continue reading »

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Where to watch 2016 election results in Berkeley

The first presidential debate drew 1,000 people to Addison Street to watch the jumbo screen at BAMPFA. Photo: Matt, @nosoupforgeorge from Twitter
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We know you’ll be glued to Berkeleyside’s 2016 Election live blog Tuesday night, and busy sending us your pics and videos from around town, but you may also want to attend a Berkeley watch party to see the results as they come in. Here’s a handy list. If you know of a party we missed, please add it in the comments.

Berkeleyside will live blog about local reactions and the results of all the local races starting at about 8 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 8. You may also find us doing a Facebook Live broadcast. Stay tuned!  … Continue reading »

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Berkeley police arrest teen after gunfire on Telegraph

An officer keeps watch outside Pappy's on Telegraph in 2013 (file photo). Photo: Emilie Raguso
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Update, 10:20 p.m. Norris is from El Sobrante and no weapons were recovered, police said.

Update, 4:33 p.m. Police arrested Meleko Norris, 18, at 2:33 a.m. on suspicion of willful discharge of a firearm with gross negligence, carrying a concealed weapon, carrying a loaded firearm in a public place, being a felon in possession of a firearm, and being a prohibited person in possession of ammunition. He is scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday at 9 a.m. at Wiley W. Manuel Courthouse and remains in custody with a bail of $240,000.

Original story, 4:28 a.m. A man in a crowd was arrested after police said he fired several rounds on Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley early Sunday morning.

Berkeley Police watch commander Lt. Alyson Hart said he fired the gun on Telegraph between Channing and Durant. There were no injuries, she said. No further information was provided.

According to scanner traffic reviewed by Berkeleyside, the incident took place around 1:45 a.m. Pacific Standard Time. Police were already in the area because of large crowds blocking the roadway between Channing and Durant at around 1 a.m.

The crowd was at times described by police as “hostile,” with some people throwing bottles at cars that tried to pass by, police said. Firefighters called to the area were told to wait outside a perimeter for a police escort because there was “a big riot around Pappy’s” Grill, at 2367 Telegraph, according to the scanner recording. … Continue reading »

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