Author Archives: Emilie Raguso


Berkeleyside blotter: Crime in Berkeley, Jan. 7-13

Selected calls to the Berkeley Police, via 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, about breaking news or neighborhood safety issues, via email at or on Facebook or TwitterDon’t assume someone else will alert us. We want to know about issues of concern and rely on readers to help us stay informed.

From Jan. 7-13, there were reports of three robberies17 burglariessix assaults or batteriestwo weapon-involved calls and one sexual assault, according to There were also 12 stolen vehiclesseven disturbances and 10 auto break-ins or thefts from vehicles reported. An assault, a burglary and a stolen vehicle were reported to the University of California Police Department (UCPD). The following items represent a sampling of calls; incidents that took place during a range of time are listed unless otherwise noted by the beginning of that time period. Arrested individuals listed in this blotter are presumed innocent.

Thursday, Jan. 7

Someone broke into Haas Pavilion and stole clothing and food worth $620 between Wednesday at 7:45 p.m. and Thursday at 8:30 a.m.

There were two home burglaries, at 1:20 a.m. in the 1700 block of Walnut Street, and at 10:25 a.m. in the 2700 block of College Avenue. Police arrested Colby Dudley, 26, and 24-year-old Matthew Henderson in connection with the incident on Walnut. Dudley remains in custody with a bail of $40,000 at Santa Rita Jail, while Henderson is being held with a bail of $35,000. They are scheduled for a pretrial hearing Feb. 2.

The California Highway Patrol chased a stolen tow truck in Berkeley, but ended the pursuit when the driver reached freeway speeds on city streets, authorities said. Oakland CHP spokesman Officer Sean Wilkenfeld said the CHP got a call before 4 a.m. about a stolen tow truck on Gilman Street west of I-80. The driver fled before a roadblock was established. The driver fled east on Gilman, said Wilkenfeld, but “due to the suspect’s excessive speed on city streets and reckless driving behavior we terminated the pursuit.” The tow truck was recovered later in the morning after it was abandoned in Oakland. Wilkenfeld said officers terminated the chase due to public safety, and noted that sirens were used “so that any pedestrians or vehicles in the area are aware of the danger and so that the suspect cannot later claim that they did not know we were behind them.” (This item first appeared on an earlier blotter for timeliness.)

A woman with a gun shot herself outside Berkeley’s Old City Hall. She later died. She was identified as 63-year-old Shelley Bergum of Berkeley.

A vehicle was stolen at 3 p.m. in the 2800 block of Woolsey Street.

There was a felony assault or battery at 10:35 p.m. in the 2000 block of Allston Way.  … Continue reading »

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Police make arrest in 2014 Berkeley killing

The killing took place in the parking lot of Seabreeze Market. Photo: Brian Costales
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An Oakland man has been arrested on suspicion of murder in connection with the fatal shooting in 2014 of 21-year-old Damarco J. Thomas.

On Saturday, police arrested Keivon Burnette on a warrant in Oakland at 9:25 a.m. after working on the case for more than a year, said Carolyn Jones, East Bay Regional Park District spokeswoman.

Jones said authorities believe the shooting happened when a group from Oakland tried to rob a group from Stockton during what was supposed to be a marijuana sale in the Seabreeze parking lot Oct. 28, 2014. Members of both groups were armed, Jones said.  … Continue reading »

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Teen with gun spotted near Berkeley High, detained

Berkeley High police cruiser. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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Berkeley authorities detained two people — one of whom was spotted with a gun — Wednesday afternoon in what school officials say was a continuation of problems that began downtown Tuesday when a group of teens assaulted a BHS student.

Officers have not yet recovered a firearm, according to the 7:19 p.m. statement released by Berkeley High School Principal Sam Pasarow, but they are continuing to search for it in the area around campus.

According to the statement, a BHS staff member spotted a non-student with a gun at 4:15 p.m. near the eastern side of campus, on Milvia Street.

Berkeley police officers responded immediately, Pasarow said, and detained that person and a second non-student. … Continue reading »

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Council approves $1.5M to fight soda consumption

Two high-school students on their lunch break carry food and drink out of the McDonald’s on University Avenue in Berkeley. Photo, taken on Monday Oct. 20, 2014, by Gael McKeon
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Officials voted Tuesday night to step up the fight against sugary drinks in Berkeley by boosting public health staffing, helping pay for school nutrition programs and funding grants to help limit the impacts of, and access to, sugar-sweetened beverages.

The Berkeley City Council voted unanimously to allocate $1.5 million from the general fund in the coming fiscal year to those efforts. The vote was in response to a request from a citizen board, the “Sugar Sweetened Beverage Products Panel of Experts,” which has been working since last May to come up with recommendations to guide the city following the successful passage of Measure D, a 1-cent-per-ounce tax on drinks with added sweeteners such as sodas, and energy and coffee drinks.

Berkeley was lauded as the first city in the nation to pass a tax on sugary drinks. The measure was approved with 75% of the vote in November 2014.

Read complete Berkeleyside coverage of the soda tax.

Since tax collection began last May, the city has brought more than $1.2 million into the general fund, staff said Tuesday night. Council members said they want to do their best to align any spending plans with tax revenues, though all the money is technically part of the general fund. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley teen arrested with gun amid fights downtown

Berkeley Police cruisers. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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An 18-year-old from Berkeley was arrested with a loaded gun Tuesday evening after authorities responded to reports of large groups of youth fighting in the streets downtown, police said.

Shortly after 7 p.m., a Berkeleyside reader reported a “heavy” police presence downtown, and asked for more information.

Berkeley Police Lt. Dan Montgomery told Berkeleyside that police had been alerted earlier in the evening to a group of about 60 young adults “pushing and fighting” in the street in front of Papa John’s, on Shattuck Avenue between Allston Way and Kittredge Street.

A caller also reported that one member of the group pulled out a gun during the disturbance.  … Continue reading »

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180-foot high-rise proposed over Berkeley Walgreens

Terrace Green Apartments is proposed at 2190 Shattuck. Image: WRNS Studio
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A San Mateo-based developer has submitted an application to build a 180-foot-tall mixed-use high-rise in downtown Berkeley over a redesigned Walgreens store.

Shattuck Terrace Green Apartments at 2190 Shattuck Ave., just north of Allston Way, is set to include 274 units, 12,000 square feet of commercial space, and a 19,000-square-foot underground garage with spots for more than 80 vehicles. The 18-story structure would replace a 2-story retail building. Walgreens is there now, and is expected to return if Terrace Green is built, according to project documents.

Read more about tall buildings proposed in Berkeley in past Berkeleyside coverage.

The city’s Downtown Area Plan, which was adopted in 2012 after Berkeley voters endorsed its concepts in 2010, allows for the construction of three 180-foot-tall buildings in Berkeley’s downtown core, and two 120-foot-high buildings. UC Berkeley has the right to build two more 120-foot structures. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley man set to enter plea in death threats case

Image via Facebook
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A Berkeley man is facing extortion and criminal threats charges, both felonies, after authorities say he sent bizarre emails to a former friend, demanding $25,000 and threatening to kill him and his family.

Jesse Gilbert, 38, has been in custody since his arrest in late October. He is scheduled to enter a plea in the case next week in Alameda County Superior Court.

According to court papers, the victim told police he got six emails from Gilbert, some of which demanded money. Lines quoted by police reportedly from the emails included: “I will put you through a meat grinder if you don’t pay me $25,000” and “If I do get the ability and you don’t pay I will kill you.”

The emails also included phrases, according to court documents, such as “I may be putting thee in a ditch all while watching you twitch,” “You are at the top of my list,” “My business partners might blast you in daylight in the middle of the plaza” and “not to mention some dudes who know how to cut heads off.” … Continue reading »

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Berkeley School Board primer: Campus racism, Thousand Oaks portables, help for ‘high-need’ students

BUSD held a town hall in December about how to address racism on campus. Photo: Mark Coplan/BUSD
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The Berkeley schools Board of Education meets tonight, Jan. 13. On the agenda: The superintendent will share his plan to address racism on campus, the board may vote to call off plans for portables at Thousand Oaks, and there will be an overview about the types of intervention help and support the district’s high-need students receive.

Plan to address racism on campus

There’s one item on the action calendar, which is a follow-up to a Berkeley Unified School District town hall meeting in early December focused on racial threats last fall directed toward black students and staff at Berkeley High. The meeting was a collaboration between the district and community group Parents of Children of African Descent (PCAD).

According to the agenda item, “That meeting generated a rich array of input from the community that resulted in suggestions and requests for commitments from the District to better safeguard the physical, emotional, and educational interests of our African-American students.” 

Two days after the town hall, the Berkeley High School Black Student Union presented to the board a “list of demands designed to address the issue of racism on campus.” … Continue reading »

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Berkeley marijuana dispensary robbed at gunpoint

The Berkeley Patients' Group has distributed free medical cannabis for years to low-income patients. A new law passed by the  Berkeley City Council codifies this and requires dispensaries to give away 2% of its cannabis to the poor.
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Police are looking for three masked robbers with a gun who tied up a security guard and took several trays of marijuana plants from a Berkeley medical cannabis dispensary over the weekend while the business was closed.

The robbery took place Sunday just before 1:20 a.m., said Officer Jennifer Coats, Berkeley Police spokeswoman, when three people went into the parking lot of the Berkeley Patients Group (BPG) dispensary at 2366 San Pablo Ave., near Channing Way.

A security guard was posted in the parking lot. No other employees were on site.

“The suspects approached the guard, one armed with a gun,” said Coats. “The guard was tied up. The suspects entered the business and forced the security guard to lay on the ground.” … Continue reading »

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Berkeleyside blotter: Crime in Berkeley, 12/31-1/6

Selected calls to the Berkeley Police, via 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, about breaking news or neighborhood safety issues, via email at or on Facebook or TwitterDon’t assume someone else will alert us. We want to know about issues of concern and rely on readers to help us stay informed.

From Dec. 31 to Jan. 6, there were reports of five robberies14 burglaries11 assaults or batteries, three weapon-involved calls and no sexual assaults, according to There were also five stolen vehiclesfour disturbances and 24 auto break-ins or thefts from vehicles reported. A weapons call and a burglary were reported by the University of California Police Department (UCPD). The following items represent a sampling of calls; incidents that took place during a range of time are listed unless otherwise noted by the beginning of that time period. Arrested individuals listed in this blotter are presumed innocent.

Thursday, Dec. 31

UCPD arrested David Rivera, 24, on an Oakland Police warrant related to hit-and-run causing injury, and driving on a suspended license. He was arrested at 2:22 a.m. at Channing Way and Telegraph Avenue and taken to Berkeley Jail for booking. He is scheduled for a pretrial hearing Jan. 27 at the Wiley Manuel Courthouse in Oakland, and is no longer in custody.

There was a disturbance call at 1:38 a.m. at Channing Way and Bonar Street.

Two vehicles were stolen, at 11:10 a.m. in the 2400 block of Ashby Avenue, and at 9 p.m. in the 1500 block of Woolsey Street. … Continue reading »

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Gun violence makes for busy weekend for Berkeley police

Police responded to two shootings in South Berkeley over the weekend. Locations are approximate and reflect only the block. Image: Google Maps
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Berkeley police handled two significant incidents over the weekend involving gunfire, one that sent a man to the hospital and another that led to the arrest of three 18-year-olds.

Police have been unable to respond to a request for information about the incidents, so Berkeleyside reviewed scanner transmissions to learn, at least preliminarily, about what took place. The information that follows has not been confirmed, but this story will be updated if details are provided by authorities.

Saturday, police responded to a home on Stuart Street, near California Street, after a man called police to report that he had been shot in the leg. Paramedics took the man to Highland Hospital for treatment, but he was not cooperative, according to scanner recordings.

(Update, 6 p.m. A brief statement from police appears at the bottom of this story.)

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City worker sent to hospital after garbage truck accident

Preliminary reports indicate that a Berkeley garbage truck was involved in a traffic incident Monday. Image: Google Maps
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Update, Jan. 12, 11 a.m. The worker, identified as Johnny Tolliver, has died. Tolliver, who had worked for Berkeley for 25 years. The city lowered its flags to half-staff in his honor Tuesday. Read more on Berkeleyside.

Original story, 2:43 p.m. A city worker was taken to the hospital after a municipal garbage truck may have pinned him against a tree in the Berkeley Hills on Monday afternoon when its brakes went out, according to preliminary reports.

City spokesman Matthai Chakko said Monday at about 2 p.m. that the incident remains under investigation, and that he could only confirm that a worker was taken to the hospital. Chakko was not able to provide any additional details.

Berkeleyside reviewed scanner audio recordings to find out more. The information that follows is unconfirmed. This story will be updated if the city provides additional information.

The Berkeley Fire Department was dispatched early Monday afternoon to 90 Parnassus Road for a report of an individual who was initially pinned in place by what was later determined to be a city of Berkeley garbage truck.  … Continue reading »

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Update: Police find car of missing UC Berkeley student

Shuqin Zhang. Photo: BPD
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Update, Jan. 10, 8:30 a.m. Berkeley police are reporting that, during their search for missing student Shuqin Zhang, “several items identified as belonging to Shuqin were located on the cliff above the ocean.” This was by the Point Reyes lighthouse near where the 22-year-old’s car was found Saturday.

Update, Jan. 9, 3:04 p.m. Berkeley police released an update regarding Shuqin Zhang, the 22-year-old who was classified as “missing and at risk” Friday.

Early Saturday morning, Zhang’s vehicle was found at Point Reyes near the lighthouse area, according to BPD. The vehicle was unoccupied and search efforts are underway. The National Park Service, U.S. Coast Guard and Marin County Search and Rescue are looking for Zhang. Berkeley police investigators are on scene and coordinating with those agencies. … Continue reading »

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