Author Archives: Emilie Raguso

Downtown

4 arrested after cell phone theft from coffee shop

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Berkeley Police officers were able to trace the signal from a stolen cell phone to the man they say took it from a coffee shop bathroom after a woman left it there by mistake.

On May 21 at about 3:30 p.m., the young woman was inside the bathroom, in the 2100 block of Oxford Street, when she forgot her phone, which had a case containing her credit cards, too, said Officer Byron White, a Berkeley Police spokesman.

When she realized her mistake, she quickly returned to the restroom to discover that someone was already using it,” White said. “When the person left the restroom, the woman asked the man if he had seen a cell phone case inside. The man told her ‘No’ and quickly ran out of the store.”

Soon afterward, the woman checked her credit card accounts and saw a pending charge on one of them from a nearby gas station. Officers were able to follow up with the station and find surveillance footage from the transaction.

Initially, the woman was able to use cell phone tracking to find the phone, but the signal went cold, White said.

A few hours later, the signal came back on, and led police to an apartment building in the 2300 block of Bonar Street. As police responded to the area, one individual outside the building yelled, “The cops are coming!” White said.  … Continue reading »

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Crime

Police search nets arrest, stolen gun, cocaine for sale

Police arrested an Oakland man linked to cocaine and a stolen gun on East 17th Street near Seventh Avenue. Image: Google Maps
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Berkeley police arrested a two-time felon in Oakland after searching his home and vehicle and finding 4 ounces of crack cocaine packaged for sale, a stolen loaded gun and nearly two dozen fraudulent debit and credit cards in a hidden compartment.

During the search, which happened April 27, police also recovered more than $7,000 in cash, two digital scales, unused packaging, 12 altered gift cards, a card embosser and a card encoder, according to court documents.

Police searched the person, home and vehicle of 34-year-old Leon Johnson in the 600 block of East 17th Street in Oakland.

According to court papers, a search of Johnson’s cell phones led to the discovery of a text message “indicating that he is selling narcotics.”

The day after the search, police seized another $28,000 from Johnson’s bank accounts. … Continue reading »

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Crime

Teen arrested after robbery attempt, assault at BART

A coroner's van was parked outside the downtown Berkeley BART station. Photo: Karima Zweena
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Police arrested an 18-year-old who grabbed a cell phone from another person at the downtown Berkeley BART station, then punched him in the face before fleeing on a train after a bystander was able to take back the phone.

The robbery attempt happened Sunday just before 1:10 p.m., according to the BART Police.

The victim told police a man had grabbed his phone from his hand, and punched him in the face as he took the phone.

“A male bystander grabbed the phone from the suspect, as the suspect was punching the victim, and returned the phone to the victim,” according to the BART Police. “The suspect fled on a train, which was intercepted by an officer at the Ashby Station.” … Continue reading »

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Crime

Crime in Berkeley: Fight with pepper spray, student fight at Realm, woman arrested with burglary tools, more

Selected calls to the Berkeley Police, via CrimeMapping.com. Scroll down for detailed maps. Click the map above for 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 May 12-18, there were reports of five robberies15 burglaries16 assaults or batteriesone weapon-involved call and two sexual assaults, according to CrimeMapping.com. There were also eight stolen vehicles11 disturbances and 28 auto break-ins or thefts from vehicles reported. Two burglaries, a robbery and a sex crime were reported on CrimeMapping to the University of California Police Department (UCPD). Arrested or charged individuals are presumed innocent. Find the May 12-18 round-up below several more recent items.

Recent public safety news

FIGHT WITH PEPPER SPRAY BPD responded to a fight between two people Wednesday, June 1, around 10:45 p.m. at Ashby Avenue and Adeline Street. Said Berkeley Police spokesman Sgt. Andrew Frankel, “During the course of the fight one used a can of pepper spray on the other.” One person received a ticket and the other person, a 54-year-old man, “became physically combative” with officers. He was subdued and placed under arrest. Charges do not appear to have been filed, according to available records online from the Alameda County sheriff’s office.

STUDENT FIGHT There was a fight Thursday, June 2, around 1 p.m. on University Avenue near Realm Charter School that drew a crowd of about 100 students. Berkeleyside readers reported “commotion and heavy police presence on university near San Pablo” and police “talking to folks @ realm high school.” One student was arrested on suspicion of resisting arrest, Frankel said.

ABANDONED VEHICLE REPORT LEADS TO ARREST A Berkeley parking enforcement officer (PEO) spotted and reported an abandoned vehicle, which led to the arrest of a woman police said had burglary tools and electronic payment cards that did not belong to her. On May 19 at about 1:50 p.m., the officer was in the 1900 block of Milvia Street when he saw someone inside the vehicle as he checked it out. The parking officer discovered that the vehicle had been reported stolen from Antioch; in the meantime, the person inside had walked away. … Continue reading »

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Crime

Jury recommends death in double murder case

Relatives of Anthony Medearis III and Alaysha Carradine thanked members of the district attorney's office, including prosecutor John Brouhard (left) after the verdict came in. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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An Alameda County jury came back Thursday to recommend a sentence of death in the case against Darnell Williams Jr., who had already been found guilty of the killings in 2013 of a little girl at a sleepover and a man who was pleading for his life as he tried to run away.

The same jury found Williams guilty one month ago of those murders, along with the attempted murders of three other people and the accidental shooting of his own nephew. But, because the death penalty was a possible sentence in the case, there has been a second phase of the trial involving new evidence in recent weeks.

Read complete coverage of the case.

The jury deliberated for about a day before coming back with its verdict. Judge Jeffrey Horner said Thursday afternoon that Williams would be sentenced Sept. 21. The jury’s verdict is a recommendation the judge could ultimately reconsider.

Williams did not respond to the verdict except by looking up at the courtroom clock, which he has done often throughout the proceedings. When the judge asked him if he wanted to give up his right to be sentenced within 20 court days, he responded with a quiet “yes.” No supporters attended the hearing on his behalf.

The case was the first one to go to trial under Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley in which she sought the death penalty. The last person in the county to be sent to death row was David Mills in 2012 after his conviction for triple murder.

O’Malley attended Thursday’s hearing, and said it was the execution of a child, and the near-deaths of two other children, that — in part — made this case so heinous and prompted her to seek the death penalty.  … Continue reading »

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Crime

Woman arrested (again) in Berkeley after arson

Police arrested a transient Berkeley woman in connection with arson Wednesday night. Photo: Paul Kealoha-Blake
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A transient Berkeley woman who’s had repeated run-ins with police in the past is back in custody Thursday after authorities say she set at least one dumpster on fire by the library Wednesday night.

Dawn Carraway, 26, was arrested just before midnight on suspicion of arson. It’s not the first time she’s been arrested in Berkeley in connection with that crime.

Berkeley Police spokesman Sgt. Andrew Frankel said reports of dumpster fires began coming into the department at 11:11 p.m. The first two reports involved dumpsters at 2424 Haste St., then Dwight Way and Dana Street.

Berkeley firefighters responded to extinguish the fires.

Just after 11:30 p.m., Frankel said an officer was ‘flagged down’ about a third fire in a concrete trash receptacle at the Central Library at 2090 Kittredge.

“After further investigation, the woman who flagged officers down about the third fire was arrested for setting that fire in front of the library,” Frankel said. “Additional investigation will be necessary to determine if she also set the first two fires.”

Carraway is being held at Santa Rita Jail with a bail of $50,000. She is scheduled for arraignment Friday at the Wiley Manuel Courthouse in downtown Oakland. … Continue reading »

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Former UC housing resident sentenced for child porn

UC Berkeley's University Village in Albany includes housing for families affiliated with Cal. Photo: UCB
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A man who was married to a UC Berkeley student, who was living in campus housing at the time of the crime, has been sentenced to nine years in prison in connection with a federal child pornography case, authorities report.

Konrad Wolff, 28, was sentenced Thursday, May 26, by U.S. District Judge James Donato to 108 months in prison.

In December, after a bench trial before Donato, Wolff “was convicted of receiving thousands of images and hundreds of videos of child pornography.”

According to authorities, “The evidence at trial established that Wolff possessed videos and images of minor and prepubescent children engaging in sexually explicit and sadomasochistic conduct. Judge Donato also found at sentencing that the defendant was in possession of certain manuals which provided step-by-step instructions on how to sexually exploit children while avoiding detection by law enforcement.”

Wolff was living in Albany on UC Berkeley property when the initial report came in. He was married to a UC Berkeley student, UCPD said this week. … Continue reading »

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Transportation

Berkeley’s Center Street garage to close June 30

Designs are coming along for an updated Center Street garage. Image: Marcy Wong Donn Logan Architects
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Berkeley’s Center Street garage is set to close at the end of the month to make way for a modern, new garage with hundreds more parking spots.

The 70-year-old garage, which has entrances on Center and Addison streets, will close June 30, the city said Wednesday. The new structure will include 720 parking spaces, compared to the current 420.

The new structure is scheduled to re-open by fall 2017.

The new garage’s more efficient design will more easily move cars through the structure. It will also add valet and self-storage for over 300 bicycles, creating the largest such bicycle storage in the City,” according to city staff. 

Read more about the Center Street garage in past coverage.

The new design is set to include “rooftop solar panels, high-efficiency LED lighting, a rainwater collection system to bio-filter and store water for irrigation. It will also be the hub of a micro-grid that provides emergency power.” There are also 19 electric vehicle charging stations.
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Crime

Jury to begin deliberations in murder trial of ‘psychopath’

Alaysha Carradine, 8, and Anthony "Tone" Medearis, 22, were both killed in fatal shootings in 2013. Photos: Courtesy of family
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In closing statements Tuesday in the murder trial of Darnell Williams Jr., attorneys on both sides said the 25-year-old Berkeley man was a psychopath. But they disagreed in their advice to the jury about what his sentence should be.

Prosecutor John Brouhard told jurors the death penalty would be the fair and just punishment for Williams, who fatally shot two people in separate incidents in 2013, and tried to kill three others.

Defense attorney Deborah Levy agreed with the assessment of her client as a psychopath, but said the jury could still choose to show him mercy.

“Was he born that way?” she asked the jury. “I don’t think so.”

She noted that Williams had not shown remorse or emotion throughout the trial process.

“I know you’ve seen it,” she told jurors. “It’s part of his emotional illness, that’s why. Psychopaths, they are unable to feel for others.” … Continue reading »

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Community

Berkeley power outage affects more than 10,000

Power outages in Berkeley are affecting thousands, according to PG&E's outage map.
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Update, 9:50 p.m. PG&E spokeswoman Jacqueline Ratto said power to all customers had been restored by about 9:45 p.m. She had no further information on cause but said “an extensive investigation” would be done to find out what led to the outage.

She confirmed that the first reports of the outage began coming in to PG&E at 6:07 p.m., contrary to her earlier report, which was based on preliminary information.

Update, 8:06 p.m. PG&E spokeswoman Jacqueline Ratto says an underground equipment failure appears to be the cause of Tuesday night’s outage in Berkeley, according to the agency’s preliminary investigation. She confirmed the outage has impacted about 10,000 customers.

Ratto said she did not have the location of that equipment, and asked for patience from customers because the time of restoration is currently unknown. She said multiple outages are affecting customers.

According to the information she had, the outage began at 7:30, though customers began reporting power problems in Berkeley to Berkeleyside as early as 6:17 p.m.

Original story, 7:45 p.m. Residents are reporting widespread power outages downtown and in southeast Berkeley.

According to the PG&E outage map, more than 10,200 people have been affected by what is described online as 14 outages. … Continue reading »

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3 arrested, guns and meth found, in West Berkeley raid

Police recovered these items during an operation Thursday at Juan's Place in West Berkeley. Photo: BPD
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[Editor’s Note: This story was updated after publication with comments from Juan’s Place and additional information from the Berkeley Police Department.]

Three men were arrested during a narcotics operation at Juan’s Place in West Berkeley on Thursday morning.

Officer Byron White, a Berkeley Police spokesman, said the department’s Special Investigations Bureau “recovered several handguns, ammunition, drug paraphernalia, as well as a quantity of methamphetamine.”

White said he couldn’t share much information about the investigation, which took place at 941 Carleton St., because it remains in-progress.

That address is the location of popular Berkeley Mexican restaurant Juan’s Place.

White said three Berkeley men were arrested: 51-year-old Jorge Mejia, on suspicion of being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition, both felonies; 61-year-old Juan Mejia, on suspicion of possessing controlled substances and drug paraphernalia, which are misdemeanors, along with probation violation; and 57-year-old Oscar Medina, on an outstanding warrant.

According to online records from the Alameda County sheriff’s office, Jorge Mejia is an assistant manager at Juan’s Place, where the raid took place. Juan Mejia is listed as a restaurant employee. Both were booked into Berkeley Jail on Thursday.

Tony Mejia, manager at Juan’s, said the guns had been locked up in a safe and were not accessible to his brother, Jorge. He said their father had purchased some of those guns 30 years ago from a Berkeley Police officer, and that they had just been sitting in the safe ever since.

“I’m not a gun person,” he said. “They’re still in the box where my dad purchased them. We’re not doing those kinds of things here.” … Continue reading »

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Crime

Crime log: Narcotics operation, community session about shooting, checkpoint arrests, ‘Click it or Ticket’

Selected calls to the Berkeley Police, via CrimeMapping.com. Scroll down for detailed maps. Click the map above for 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 May 5-11, there were reports of 10 robberies19 burglariesseven assaults or batteriesseven weapon-involved calls and three sexual assaults, according to CrimeMapping.com. There were also five stolen vehicles18 disturbances and 24 auto break-ins or thefts from vehicles reported. An assault and a vehicle theft were reported on CrimeMapping to the University of California Police Department (UCPD). Arrested or charged individuals are presumed innocent. Find our May 5-11 round-up below.

Recent public safety news

POLICE ACTIVITY THURSDAY If you spotted police activity Thursday morning, May 26, in the 900 block of Carleton Street in West Berkeley, authorities say it was part of an ongoing narcotics investigation conducted by the Berkeley Police Department’s Special Investigations Bureau. Detectives were still at the scene at around 9:45 a.m. conducting an active investigation, according to BPD. A reader reporting seeing officers “wearing protective vests” who “had two men in handcuffs already, and seemed to be going in the back entrance” at Juan’s Place. Berkeleyside has asked for additional information from BPD.

COMMUNITY MEETING ABOUT SHOOTING Next week, Councilman Darryl Moore is holding a community meeting to discuss last week’s shooting at San Pablo Park. The meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, June 1, from 7-8:30 p.m. at the Frances Albrier Community Center in San Pablo Park, 2800 Park St. The meeting has been arranged to allow residents to “to discuss the shooting and what the city is doing to avoid any future incidents. As this is an active investigation, the Berkeley Police Department may be unable to share certain details in order to protect their investigation, but they will share what information they are able.” The victim remained in critical condition as of the last report from BPD. No arrests had been made, but police have been providing additional patrols around the park since the shooting. Read more on Berkeleyside. … Continue reading »

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Crime

Williams decides not to testify; defense rests

Rene C. Davidson Courthouse. Photo: Melati Citrawireja
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After suddenly announcing Wednesday that convicted murderer Darnell Williams Jr. would testify on his own behalf, the defense team backtracked Thursday morning with the brief announcement that it would instead rest its case.

The disappointment in the courtroom was palpable, as relatives and supporters of Williams’ two murder victims, along with other attorneys and interested spectators, had come to court to hear what he had to say.

At least some members of the jury appeared miffed they had made the trip to court for nothing.

“I knew your sucka ass weren’t going to get up there,” the sister of Anthony Medearis III — one of Williams’ two victims — yelled at him as she left the courtroom. Court staff told her she could not return for the remainder of the trial.  … Continue reading »

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