Author Archives: Emilie Raguso

‘Severe traffic alert’ in the East Bay due to tractor trailer fire, fuel spill

Truck fire. Photo: Mordiceius
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Traffic through Berkeley is snarled on the highway after a tractor trailer caught fire and spilled fuel on Interstate 880 near I-580, authorities report.

Circulation in that area — northbound I-880 to eastbound I-80 — is limited, and authorities have advised motorists to use alternate routes, according to 511 Bay Area.

“On Friday, July 8th, at 1:08pm, a Severe Traffic Alert is in effect on the northbound I-880 ramp to eastbound I-80 due to a tractor trailer fire and fuel spill. The on-ramp is closed. Motorists are advised to expect delays and avoid the area. There is no estimated time to reopen the roadway,” according to 511. … Continue reading »

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Police: Fingerprints link Berkeley man, 24, to 2008 sexual assault series with at least 3 victims

Police arrested 24-year-old Johnny Dunbar on Wednesday in the 1300 block of Delaware Street. Image: Google Maps
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Fingerprints collected after a traffic-related misdemeanor warrant arrest in March helped police zero in on the man they say is responsible for a series of sexual assaults in Berkeley in 2008.

Details about those assaults remain scant, but the Berkeley Police Department arrested 24-year-old Johnny Dunbar at his home in the 1300 block of Delaware Street on Wednesday on suspicion of two counts of rape, one count of oral copulation and one count of attempted oral copulation. The case involved at least three victims, police said.

See the update, with additional information about the crimes.

According to Lt. Kevin Schofield, a Berkeley Police spokesman, the department investigated a sexual assault series in 2008 that, in addition to the three victims, also involved several peeping or prowling incidents.

Despite a large amount of diligent work and undercover operations we were not able to capture the suspect,” he said, in a prepared statement. “We did obtain fingerprints at one of the crime scenes before the series stopped.” Continue reading »

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City erects fence at Gilman to deal with homeless campers

Workers clear out a homeless encampment near the Gilman interchange of Interstate 80 to put up a fence, in Berkeley, on Thursday, July 7, 2016. Photo: David Yee ©2016
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The city of Berkeley is working Thursday to install a new fence on Gilman Street on the southeast side of the Interstate 80 freeway as part of ongoing efforts to curtail camping by homeless in the area.

Jim Hynes, from the Berkeley city manager’s office, brought “No Trespassing” signs down to the site in the late morning to hand out to workers who were installing the fence. Hynes said he was also looking into what it might cost to put more fencing on the north side of the street east of the freeway.

Three people received citations Thursday from Berkeley Police officers for obstructing the sidewalk, but no arrests were made. Campers in the area said their property — much of which had both material and sentimental value — was taken and put into a dumpster as part of the enforcement effort.

Caltrans and the California Highway Patrol were also on scene for the cleanup.

Hynes said campers in the area were given notice two days in a row that authorities would be on scene Thursday. He pointed out dozens of used syringes left in the area in the wake of the cleanup, as well as juice bottles full of urine. … Continue reading »

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Man walking with loaded rifle, extra ammo arrested in West Berkeley

Recovered rifle and ammunition. Photo: BPD
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Berkeley police officers arrested a 35-year-old Oakland man Wednesday morning after an alert resident spotted him carrying a gun through the neighborhood, authorities said.

Leonard Jackson was walking at Eighth Street and Channing Way toward San Pablo Avenue when a concerned citizen saw him with the firearm and called 911 to report it, said Lt. Kevin Schofield, a Berkeley Police spokesman.

Officers responded immediately and spotted the man at Channing and San Pablo. Officers told Jackson to sit on the ground, and he complied.

“Officers could see a rifle barrel protruding from under a blanket in his lap,” Schofield said in a prepared statement. “The officers blocked traffic and created a safe zone to contact Jackson.” … Continue reading »

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Berkeley crime log: Aquatic Park search, man sentenced after stabbing, bike thefts at BART, Explorer open house

Selected calls to the Berkeley Police, via 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 or on Facebook and TwitterDon’t assume someone else will alert us. We rely on readers to help us stay informed.

SNAPSHOT From June 9-15, there were reports of five robberies23 burglaries17 assaults or batteriesone weapon-involved call and three sexual assaults, according to There were also 15 stolen vehicles14 disturbances and 34 auto break-ins or thefts from vehicles reported. A vehicle theft and two vandalism incidents, 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 9-15 round-up below several more recent items.

Recent public safety news

STOLEN CAR IN AQUATIC PARK The Berkeley Police Department put out a Nixle alert at about 2:20 p.m. Friday after an officer saw an occupied stolen Acura near North Aquatic Park, Lt. Kevin Schofield of BPD reports. The driver and passenger fled from the car.  Police searched for them around Bancroft Way and Aquatic Park, but were unable to find the duo. During the search, police asked the public to stay out of the area. Police spent about 10 minutes looking before calling off the search around 2:30 p.m., according to a second Nixle alert released at that time.

SMOKING ON BART, RESISTING ARREST Police responded to the downtown Berkeley station Friday, July 1, for a woman who was “smoking on a train and creating a disturbance” at about 10:35 p.m., the BART PD reported. When the BART officer arrived, the woman refused to get off the train and physically resisted the officer, authorities said. The officer used force to get the woman off the train and take her to Santa Rita Jail. BART said that, during the booking process, the woman “kicked a female OPD Officer who was assisting in searching her. A charge of assaulting an Officer was added. The suspect was also transported for a psychological exam.” She remains in custody and is scheduled for arraignment today, July 6, on the misdemeanor violations.

BIKES STOLEN AT NORTH BERKELEY BART The BART Police got three reports of stolen bikes at the North Berkeley BART station last Thursday and Friday. All of the bikes were locked. A Trek Hybrid bike valued at $500 was stolen between 7:45 a.m. and 6 p.m. It had been locked to the bike racks with a Kryptonite lock. A Cannondale hybrid also locked to the bike racks, worth $430, was stolen between 10 a.m. and 7:45 p.m. It had been secured with a Kryptonite U-lock. A brown Lemond 12-speed road bike, locked with a cable lock at 6:30 p.m. Thursday was no longer there Friday at 9 p.m. The lock was gone, too. … Continue reading »

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Man arrested outside Berkeley Whole Foods after brandishing knife, resisting arrest

Whole Foods Gilman exterior Photo Emilie Raguso
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At least two Berkeley Police officers are seeking medical care after being injured during the arrest outside a West Berkeley grocery store of a man who had earlier been armed with a knife.

The man had brandished the knife at two city employees Tuesday morning, authorities said. He dropped the knife and walked away after officers arrived, ignoring repeated commands to stop, before nearing the entrance of the Whole Foods grocery store on Gilman Street. Officers then used force to take the man into custody when he would not allow himself to be handcuffed.

Berkeley Police Lt. Kevin Schofield, a department spokesman, said the man — identified as 41-year-old Jason Joyner of Berkeley — brandished a knife shortly before 9 a.m. at two city Public Works employees on duty at San Pablo Avenue and Harrison Street.

When police arrived, they tried to speak with Joyner at Harrison and 10th streets, Schofield said.

Officers ordered Joyner to stop numerous times as they continued to attempt to deescalate the situation,” he said. “Joyner ignored their repeated commands and walked away.”Continue reading »

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UPDATE: Berkeley water won’t be fixed until after 10 p.m.; 650 customers have no service

EBMUD is at work in Berkeley after a water main break. Photo: Citizen reporter
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Update, 3:30 p.m. North Berkeley water repairs are taking longer than planned and won’t be working again until after 10 p.m. Friday, EBMUD has announced. Full restoration may even last into early Saturday morning, according to an advisory released just after 3 p.m.

This water service outage has been extended to multiple residential blocks in the Berkeley hills, including Euclid Avenue, Marin Avenue, Arlington Avenue and other surrounding streets. Approximately 650 customers are without water service,” according to the statement. The pipe that broke was 63 years old. 

In addition to the challenging steep terrain in the vicinity of the broken main and the need for deep excavation, this is a busy residential area. Crews have been onsite continuously for more than 24 hours to isolate this broken transmission main and reroute water to serve the affected areas. Water storage and pressure in the area have been impacted. After a complicated hillside excavation, crews are now repairing the pipeline.”Continue reading »

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BFD responds to vegetation fire in the hills

"Lots of fire trucks and helicopters above Strawberry Canyon, and a big smoke plume." Photo: Guillaume Pierre
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The Berkeley Fire Department and several other agencies are responding to a vegetation fire in the hills above Claremont Avenue and Fish Ranch Road, authorities have reported.

Deputy Berkeley Fire Chief Donna McCracken said firefighters were dispatched at 4:43 p.m. to help fight the blaze.

Scroll to the bottom of this story for an update.

Initially the call came into the Berkeley Communications Center, which transferred the call to Oakland.

It turned out that the fire is in the Moraga-Orinda jurisdiction, and is “running uphill” north of the Claremont Avenue and Fish Ranch Road intersection, McCracken said. … Continue reading »

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EBMUD responding to North Berkeley water main break

EBMUD is at work in Berkeley after a water main break. Photo: Citizen reporter
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The East Bay Municipal Utility District is responding to North Berkeley due to a water main break Thursday.

According to EBMUD spokeswoman Tracie Morales-Noisy, a 16-inch steel main broke Thursday at Euclid and Marin avenues.

She said she was still trying to get information about when the break happened, how many customers had been impacted and when repairs might be complete.

Shortly before 2 p.m., Morales-Noisy told Berkeleyside that the agency is still trying to assess the situation.

“Before we do any repairs, they need to … have the utilities marked before they do any type of digging,” she said.  … Continue reading »

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Homelessness in Berkeley: The fact sheet

Berkeleyside readers asked a number of questions about homelessness in the city. We try to answer some of them below. Photo: Quinn Dombrowski
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You asked and we did our best to address some of the basic questions that came up for readers last week about homelessness in Berkeley. Many of the inquiries have and will help shape Berkeleyside coverage, but are too complex to tackle here.

Below, we take a look at the demographics, the resources and the types of services offered in Berkeley, and offer some perspectives on a few of the most frequently asked questions. There’s so much more to say. But we hope this fact sheet on homelessness, along with the rest of the coverage in our Berkeley Homeless Project, can serve as a jumping off point and perhaps a baseline for the broader community to help promote a deeper understanding going forward. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley seeks to house those most in need at The Hub

Call takers at The Hub field inquiries about shelter beds, housing and other issues as part of a process to determine who is most in need. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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It used to be that those who were homeless in Berkeley had to navigate a complex tangle of services to try to find help. In January, the city launched what it hopes will be a coordinated, collaborative system designed to provide permanent housing to those who need it most and collect data to create a better overall picture of who is seeking aid in the city.

One doorway. One phone number. Whichever path you take, the vision is that your request will help you get the help you need, especially if your needs are significant and your barriers to helping yourself are high. That’s not to say everyone will get shelter. Many won’t. But, for those who don’t, the pathway to access other assistance offered in Berkeley could look a lot less confusing.

See full coverage on Berkeleyside of the Berkeley Homeless Project.

Welcome to The Hub. The official name is the Coordinated Entry System. It’s also been called the Housing Crisis Resolution Center, or the HCRC.

Whatever you call it, don’t call it a “new program,” said Sharon Hawkins Leyden, director of client services at The Hub. Think of it, she said, as massive system change.

“I’ve never seen such cooperation in my 30 years. It’s like the ship is really turning,” she said. “It feels like it has the potential to really help people in a really different way.” … Continue reading »

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Anonymous email threatens students at Berkeley school after Sacramento rally tied to local teacher

A police cruiser was parked outside Martin Luther King. Jr. Middle School on Monday. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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Local and federal authorities investigated threats Monday targeting youth at a North Berkeley middle school by a group that demanded the termination of a teacher who protested against a neo-Nazi rally in Sacramento over the weekend.

The rally Sunday made national headlines due to violent clashes between the white supremacists who took out a permit to rally at the state capitol and the counter-protesters who showed up to confront them. According to some news reports, members of the counter-protest appear to have initiated the violence. The LA Times reported that seven people were stabbed and 10 hospitalized.

Read Berkeleyside’s July update.

One of the people who took responsibility for helping organize the counter-protest was Yvette Felarca, a teacher at North Berkeley’s Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School, at 1781 Rose St. Felarca is an organizer with the activist group By Any Means Necessary, which helped lead a series of Black Lives Matter protests in Berkeley in December 2014.

Parents of day campers were told Monday morning that one of the counter-protesters from Sacramento had been linked to the Berkeley school where the camps were located. The public outing had prompted an influx of emails to the principal demanding that the teacher be fired. … Continue reading »

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Male assaulted by group on Grizzly Peak Boulevard

Look out at Signpost 15 on Grizzly Peak Boulevard
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A man sought treatment at the hospital after being assaulted on Grizzly Peak Boulevard about 24 hours after a robbery in the same vicinity, police have reported.

No one has been arrested.

According to a statement released Sunday evening by the University of California Police Department, the agency received a report earlier in the day about an aggravated assault at either Signpost 15 or 16 on Grizzly Peak.

The male victim, whose age was not disclosed, had been at the turnout with some friends when a fight broke out between his group and another group between 3:39 and 4:09 a.m. … Continue reading »

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