Author Archives: Emilie Raguso


Berkeley police defuse disturbance on Woolsey

Image: Google maps
Print Friendly

Police have detained one man after he reportedly challenged officers to a confrontation in South Berkeley on Friday morning.

Berkeley Police Officer Ethell Wilson, a department spokesman, said a man dialed 911 at 8:50 a.m. asking for police to come to his location in the 1600 block of Woolsey Street.

“The caller asked the BPD Dispatcher to send the police and bring their guns, and made statements that nothing was going to stop him,” said Wilson by email. “A distraught female’s voice could be heard in the background crying asking him to stop.”

Dispatchers also heard what sounded like it may have been a struggle between the individuals, as well as yelling.

Officers immediately responded to Woolsey, between California and King streets, and secured the area, given what Wilson described as “the potential hostage situation.” … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , , ,

After Corvette crash in Berkeley, man headed to trial

A mangled Corvette that was involved in an early morning accident on Tunnel Road in Berkeley. Photo: Jacquelyn McCormick
Print Friendly

An Alameda County Superior Court judge ruled Thursday afternoon that a young man from Tracy will face the charges against him after authorities say he crashed a Corvette on Tunnel Road in Berkeley last summer and put his friend in a coma.

Anthony Edward Torpey, 22, was charged by the Alameda County district attorney’s office with driving under the influence and causing a crash that resulted in injuries; driving with a .08% blood alcohol causing injury; leaving the scene of an accident; and attempting to dissuade a witness.

According to police, Torpey was identified as the driver of a vehicle that crashed June 20, 2014, into a concrete pillar, a tree and then a concrete wall on Tunnel Road, near Alvarado and The Uplands, “causing major head trauma” to his passenger. The passenger, identified in court papers as a friend of Torpey’s, was taken to Highland Hospital where he was found to be in a coma. … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

Police serve search warrants, make arrests in Berkeley

Police activity at Sixth and Cedar streets on Thursday. Photo: Citizen reporter
Print Friendly

Scroll to the bottom of this story for a statement from the Oakland Police Department about Thursday’s investigation.

Local police officers made at least three arrests at undisclosed locations around Berkeley on Thursday morning. Those operations were reportedly part of a broader sweep by the Oakland Police Department to crack down on gang activities tied to East Oakland.

Police have not released the names of the people who were arrested, where the arrests took place, or the potential charges faced by those taken into custody.

But, beginning in the early morning hours Thursday, residents around the city took to Twitter to ask Berkeleyside to find out about police actions that included what appeared to be SWAT teams, officers who looked to be heavily armed and hovering helicopters. … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , , , ,

Berkeleyside blotter: Crime in Berkeley, Feb. 19-25

Selected calls to the Berkeley Police, via Scroll down for detailed maps. Click the map above for the list. See the map key here.
Print Friendly

This overview of recent crime in Berkeley is based on reports to the Berkeley Police unless otherwise noted. Please don’t hesitate to share photos, videos or tips, about breaking news or neighborhood safety issues, via email at or on Facebook or Twitter; let us know if you prefer to be anonymous. Don’t assume someone else will alert us — we value your eyes and ears, and you may be the only one to get in touch. We very much want to know about issues of neighborhood concern.

From Feb. 19-25, there were reports of four robberies23 burglaries18 assaults or batteries, two weapon-involved calls and two sexual assaults, according to There were also 21 stolen vehicles11 disturbances and 22 auto break-ins or thefts from vehicles reported. Significant incidents from the University of California Police Department (UCPD) included one sex crime. These numbers are subject to change. Click the links for the latest numbers. The following items represent a sampling of calls, and times may be approximate.

Thursday, Feb. 19

Three vehicles were stolen: at midnight in the 1300 block of Second Street; at 6 p.m. in the 2000 block of Ninth Street; and at 11 p.m. in the 900 block of Hearst Avenue.

There were seven home burglaries: at 7 a.m. in the 2200 block of Blake Street; at 8 a.m. in the 1800 block of 62nd Street; at 8:30 a.m. in the 2100 block of Ashby Avenue; at 10 a.m. in the 2400 block of Fulton Street; at noon in the 600 block of Santa Rosa Avenue; and at 2:05 p.m. in the 3300 block of California Street.

There were four commercial burglaries: at 2 p.m. in the 600 block of Harrison Street; at 7:30 p.m. in the 2400 block of Stuart Street; and two at 9:30 p.m. in the 1500 block of Shattuck Avenue.

Someone reportedly brandished a weapon at 5:15 p.m. in the 1100 block of University Avenue.

According to Berkeley Police Officer Jennifer Coats: Just before 7:30 p.m., the occupants of a vehicle yelled profanities at someone in the crosswalk outside Trader Joe’s, at 1885 University: “It appears they felt the victim wasn’t walking fast enough.” Coats said by email that “The victim engaged one of the occupants of the vehicle, by striking them.” The driver stopped and the occupants got out of the vehicle and assaulted the victim, who fell to the ground, and was struck several more times, causing minor injuries. The suspects got back into the vehicle and fled the area. One witness told Berkeleyside by email that “The first assailant got out, confronted the victim and hit him. Within seconds, if not milliseconds, the victim was fleeing west and three other males poured out of the car and grabbed him, taking him down on the west side of the pallet where they beat him.” The witness said several people were “scribbling down the license plate at which point the boys jumped into the car and sped away with difficulty and lots of honking to get into the flow of traffic. The victim tried to stand up and then collapsed.” The witness said the assailants all appeared to be under 30 years old.

There was a robbery at 11:50 p.m. at Acton and Virginia streets. … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , ,

Nosh on the town: Brunch at Camino in Oakland

Poached eggs with chanterelle mushrooms, burdock and green garlic ($16). Brunch at Camino in February 2015. Photo: Emilie Raguso
Print Friendly

With Chef Russell Moore recently named as a semifinalist for James Beard’s “best chef of the west” award, it seemed like a good time to pop in and check out what Camino is up to, in addition to switching to a tip-free approach amid regional and national conversations about how to improve equitable conditions for restaurant workers. Nosh dropped by on a recent weekend to explore the Grand Avenue restaurant’s brunch options.

Most brunch offerings change regularly. Items on the menu in February included poached eggs with chanterelles, smoked quail and grilled rockfish. The restaurant regularly has special events on Mondays. Coming up in March, “Pozole Mondays” will highlight three-course meals featuring pozole baked in the Camino fireplace. The restaurant opened in 2008, and Chef Moore, a Chez Panisse alum, cooks nearly everything over fire. Many of the vegetables and fruit used at the popular Oakland restaurant come from local farmers markets. Some of the herbs and produce on Camino’s plates and in its cocktails are grown just half a mile away. (Read more in Nosh’s November feature.)

Camino is located at 3917 Grand Ave. in Oakland. The March 2015 brunch menu is online here. If you’ve sampled the spots we feature, please let us know about your experience in the comments below. (Photographs by Emilie Raguso) … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , , , ,

Felon to face 2012 Berkeley robbery, carjacking charges

Image: Google maps
Print Friendly

A 37-year-old Concord man is set to face charges after a 2012 robbery series in Berkeley that targeted the Magic Fingers massage parlor on University Avenue, which has since closed.

Samay Pomsouvanh was charged in the case in 2012, but he was not tried in the matter because he was sent to prison in connection with an armed robbery at the home of a prostitute in San Mateo.

Pomsouvanh was released from prison into the custody of the Alameda County sheriff’s department in early February to face the pending charges against him for the 2012 incidents in Berkeley.

According to court documents, Pomsouvanh and four associates — Quoc Bui, Eddie Chiwei Cheung, Aaron Boungnarith and Whitney Sullivan — were tied to robberies in 2012 at Magic Fingers, at 2047 University Ave. (west of Shattuck Avenue), on June 18, June 23, July 1 and July 6, along with another incident of robbery and carjacking June 27. The suspects reportedly posed as law enforcement officials, and tied up their victims with zip ties or duct tape during the robberies. … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Council: No drones for Berkeley police for 1 year

A drone spotted in Berkeley last October. Photo: William Newton
Print Friendly

The Berkeley City Council voted last week to enact a one-year moratorium on the use or acquisition of drones by the Berkeley Police Department.

The Feb. 24 vote came despite the fact that the department had no plans to get or use a drone.

“We don’t own a drone. We have no budget for drones. We have no plan to buy a drone,” said Police Chief Michael Meehan on Friday. “It’s not on our radar.”

Read more about drones in Berkeley.

Council voted Tuesday to allow the Berkeley Fire Department to use drones in disaster response efforts. But officials, for the most part, said they are not comfortable with police using drones for law enforcement purposes until the city hashes out a policy on the subject. As part of last week’s vote, they pledged to work on that policy at some point in the future.

The vote Tuesday does not affect privately-owned drones in Berkeley.  … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

Police arrest 2 more after December homicide in Berkeley

Kamahl Middleton
Print Friendly

Authorities have arrested two more men tied to the fatal shooting in West Berkeley that killed Kamahl Middleton, a 36-year-old El Sobrante man, in December.

Authorities tracked down one of the men — 18-year-old Khalil Leroy Phanor of San Leandro — in Washington state, and arrested him Thursday night. The Alameda County district attorney’s office had already charged Phanor on Monday with murder, robbery and assault with a firearm.

Also charged Monday was 20-year-old San Leandro resident Carl Young, who was arrested last week.

The Berkeley Police Department’s homicide detail arrested a third man, 19-year-old Gregory Foote, on Friday in Hayward, with the assistance of the Hayward Police SWAT team. The arrest took place at 7:30 a.m. in the 2300 block of Tahiti Street. Foote was arrested on suspicion of homicide, assault with a deadly weapon and robbery, and was taken to Berkeley Jail for booking. He was not yet listed online as in custody as of publication time. [Update, 9:22 p.m. Foote is being held without bail at Berkeley Jail and is scheduled for arraignment Monday.] … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Interrupted burglar grabs woman in Berkeley home

Image: Google maps
Print Friendly

Police are asking for the community’s help after a startled burglar grabbed a North Berkeley resident who found him inside her home.

The Live Oak/Codornices Creek Neighborhood Association email list was abuzz Thursday about the incident, in the 2300 block of Eunice Street (between Spruce Street and Glen Avenue) shortly before 10 a.m. (Berkeleyside first reported the incident on Facebook.)

According to one local resident, who shared the news with her neighborhood over email, the woman “heard a noise around 10am and went to investigate and turned around and was assaulted by a tall man dressed in all black who attacked her.” … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , , , , ,

Berkeley 911: Pedestrian taken to Highland after crash; callers report loud boom, too

Image: Google maps
Print Friendly

A pedestrian was taken to Highland Hospital after a vehicle struck her in Berkeley at about 7:45 p.m., according to a scanner audio recording reviewed by Berkeleyside.

Authorities received a call that a female, who was unconscious with a possible head and leg injury, had been hit by a vehicle at Ashby Avenue and Deakin Street at 7:44 p.m., as per the recording.

She was on the ground when first responders arrived. One of them reported on the scanner that she … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

53 trees come down on UC Berkeley land as grocery store, senior living project kicks off

Activists said they planned to meet in Albany on Thursday night to discuss next steps, after UC Berkeley cut down trees at University Village to prepare for a development project. Photo: Ed Fields
Print Friendly

UC Berkeley has begun the process of removing dozens of trees from its University Village property in Albany as work begins on a vacant lot slated for development that has been the site of numerous protests in recent years.

University spokeswoman Christine Shaff said Thursday afternoon by email that 53 trees will be removed from the property, on San Pablo Avenue near Monroe Street. Those trees will be replaced on a 2.5-to-1 basis, she added.

The project, which received formal approval last year from the Albany City Council “will bring senior housing and retail, including a grocery store, to serve nearby student-family housing as well as the Albany and west Berkeley communities,” Shaff said. … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , , , , ,

Berkeley council refers community policing package to city manager

Berkeley City Council, Jan. 27, 2015. Photo: Emilie Raguso
Print Friendly

The Berkeley City Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to ask the city manager to assess a long list of issues related to community-police relations and bring back a report on potential associated costs and related efforts that are already underway.

The broad package includes everything from changes in the way police handle the handcuffing and searches of people they stop to more training for police in racial sensitivity.

No action will be taken until the city manager’s office brings back the report, which is expected to take a significant amount of time.

“This is an enormous to-do list for the staff,” said Councilman Laurie Capitelli. “This is not weeks and weeks of work. This is months and months and months of work.” … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Update: Pedestrian hit by van in West Berkeley

Image: Google maps
Print Friendly

Update, Feb. 26, 1:30 p.m. Berkeley Police spokeswoman Officer Jennifer Coats released a bit more information by email about Thursday’s crash. She said, based on the preliminary investigation, the driver was northbound on San Pablo Avenue and, as he turned left onto Allston Way, struck the pedestrian in the crosswalk.

Coats said the pedestrian was still in the hospital when she last checked, but had been able to speak with traffic investigators.

The driver remained at the scene and cooperated with the police, Coats said. Neither drugs nor alcohol appeared to be a factor in the crash.

Coats said the driver was a 26-year-old homeless man. The pedestrian was a 63-year-old Hayward man. … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , , , , , ,