Category Archives: Crime

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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Crime

Breaking: Convicted murderer says he’ll take the stand

Darnell Williams Jr. mugshot. Photo: ACSO
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Minutes after a forensic psychologist described the extensive and longstanding impulse-control problems exhibited by convicted murderer Darnell Williams Jr., he suddenly announced through his attorneys that he plans to take the stand in his own defense.

His attorneys said it wasn’t the first time they had discussed the subject, but were not expecting the announcement Wednesday, just as they were about to rest their case in the “penalty phase” of the trial.

At the end of testimony, the Alameda County jury that found Williams guilty earlier this month of two murders will make a sentencing recommendation to Judge Jeffrey Horner: either the death penalty or life in prison without the possibility of parole.

The two-person defense team had just completed questioning the woman they said would be their final witness — forensic psychologist Gretchen White — when the attorneys and judge said they needed to have a brief discussion out of the presence of the jury.

Read complete coverage of the case.

The judge had already told jurors they would be excused until Tuesday morning, when attorneys would present their closing statements. … Continue reading »

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Crime

Convicted killer: ‘I been in the streets since I was 9’

Darnell Williams Jr. mugshot. Photo: ACSO
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Despite knowing he would be arrested as a result, the father of a convicted murderer came to court Tuesday to ask for mercy for his son, who could face the death penalty after being found guilty earlier this month of gunning down two people, including a child, in 2013.

Darnell Williams Sr., 49, told the Alameda County jury charged with recommending a sentence for his son that he had not been a good father. He was locked up more than a dozen times, was in a prison gang called the Black Guerrilla Family, and has been addicted to drugs, including crack cocaine. He dropped out of high school after 10th grade.

The elder Williams, who is currently on parole, said he wanted to share “anything I can say that could save my son. I’m here to see and apologize to my son… for not being a good dad. And I was a drug addict and I stayed in prison.”

He said he missed his son’s birth because he was “on drugs real bad,” and regretted missing his son’s life and his football games.

“I never wanted [him] to be nothing like me,” he said.

The elder Williams said he expected to be taken into custody — on a warrant for a parole violation — after his testimony. He was on the stand for less than 15 minutes. After he stepped down, he looked at his son and mouthed the words, “Love you, man.” Officers from the district attorney’s office took the elder Williams into custody outside the courtroom after he hugged his brother, who had testified earlier in the day. … Continue reading »

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Crime

Attorney: Williams says ‘death sentence is fine with him’

Darnell Williams Jr. mugshot. Photo: ACSO
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A Berkeley man found guilty of two murders earlier this month, who could face the death penalty, asked an Alameda County Superior Court judge Monday to dismiss the jury and make his own ruling on sentencing.

Both attorneys for 25-year-old Darnell Williams Jr. strongly advised him not to waive his rights to a jury trial, they said. But Williams had other ideas.

“He would like the proceedings to end,” defense attorney Deborah Levy told Judge Jeffrey Horner on Monday afternoon. He said he would waive his rights and accept the judge’s sentence, said Levy, adding, “The death sentence is fine with him.”

Defense attorney Darryl Billups told the judge he had advised Williams he “didn’t think it was a good idea” to waive the jury trial, which is designed to lead to a sentencing recommendation for the judge. The jury is slated to decide between the death penalty and life in prison without parole.

The jury was not present when the attorneys made the request to Horner on their client’s behalf. … Continue reading »

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Cal student sexually assaulted in Oxford parking lot

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A UC Berkeley female student was sexually assaulted in the parking lot at the corner of Hearst and Oxford on Sunday, May 15 at around 2:30 p.m.

The victim was walking through the lot when she was grabbed and sexually assaulted by a male suspect. The UC Police Department and Berkeley Police Department are jointly investigating the crime.

There is no suspect description available at this time.

If you have any information about this crime, contact UCPD’s Criminal Investigation Bureau on (510) 642-0472 … Continue reading »

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After armed robbery, car-jacking, reckless driving, police arrest 2 Berkeley men with loaded handgun, puppy

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Exclusive: Berkeley Police arrested two Berkeley men after an incident early Wednesday morning in which a victim was robbed at gunpoint, forced into a bathroom in his own home with the suspect, and then had his car stolen, according to authorities.

BPD received a call at 7 a.m. about a robbery and car-jacking in the 2200 block of Seventh Street (between Bancroft and Allston Way) in West Berkeley, according to Officer Byron White of the Berkeley Police Department.

White said a male 24-year-old victim told officers that he had just come home, to the house he shares with his 77-year-old grandmother and a 22-year-old companion of hers. The victim was driving his grandmother’s car. After getting out of the car, he was confronted by a man holding a handgun who emerged from from the shadows near another apartment building.

The suspect demanded the victim give him his keys and cellphone. He then demanded to use his restroom. … Continue reading »

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Two men robbed at gunpoint on Grizzly Peak Boulevard

Grizzly Peak Blvd near Signpost 14. Photo: Tracey Taylor
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Two men were victims of an armed robbery near Signpost 14 on Grizzly Peak Boulevard Monday at 10:40 p.m., according to authorities.

The UC Police Department said the two victims, a male student and a male friend not affiliated with the university, were standing outside of their vehicle when they were approached by two suspects, both of whom were holding hand guns. They demanded the victims’ property which the two men gave them. One of the victims suffered minor injuries during the encounter.

The suspects were last seen driving southbound on Grizzly Peak. UCPD officers searched the area but could not locate the suspects or their vehicle, which is described as a sedan, color unknown. … Continue reading »

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Young man shot multiple times in San Pablo Park

Authorities are standing by in San Pablo Park for the arrival of a patient from Alta Bates Hospital. Photo: hfidek
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There was a shooting in San Pablo Park in Berkeley Tuesday morning, according to authorities.

Officer Byron White of the Berkeley Police Department said that the shooting took place at around 11 a.m and it resulted in one victim. The victim, a young man estimated to be in his 20s, was shot multiple times and was transported to a local hospital. His condition is unknown, Officer White said.

The victim was found outside the restrooms in the park, adjacent to the basketball courts.

The suspect is described as a young man estimated to be in his 20s, light-skinned, with short hair and about 6 ft tall. He was wearing a cream-colored shirt and baggy jeans. He was last seen heading east on Ward Street from Park Street, according to Officer White. … Continue reading »

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Crime

‘Penalty trial’ begins in Berkeley-Oakland murder case

Darnell Williams Jr. mugshot. Photo: ACSO
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Darnell Williams Jr., found guilty earlier this month of two murders and several special circumstances, had a history of violent attacks both in and out of prison that make the death penalty the appropriate sentence for him, the prosecution said Monday.

In the next phase of the case, attorneys are set to present evidence to show aggravating and mitigating circumstances they hope will help an Alameda County jury decide what sort of sentence to recommend for 25-year-old Williams. He could face the death penalty or life in prison without the possibility of parole.

In 2009, nearly four years before the 2013 murders of Alaysha Carradine and Anthony “Tone” Medearis III, Williams tried to shoot down a childhood friend on Oregon Street after his own father ordered him to do it, prosecutor John Brouhard told the jury Monday during opening statements.

Read complete coverage of the case.

That was followed by three attacks on fellow inmates while he was locked up, the violation of his parole terms due to gun possession once he was released, and the discovery of a long shank in his cell during a surprise search once he was sent back to jail after his arrest in September 2013, Brouhard said.

Williams had been out of prison for about a month, following the earlier shooting attempt in Berkeley, when he gunned down 8-year-old Alaysha Carradine at an Oakland sleepover.  … Continue reading »

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Crime

Crime in Berkeley: Man asks for his own arrest, gun found in car after medical cannabis buy, fraud arrest, 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 April 28 to May 4, there were reports of two robberies14 burglaries11 assaults or batteriesfour weapon-involved calls and one sexual assault, according to CrimeMapping.com and other BPD data. There were also seven stolen vehicles17 disturbances and 20 auto break-ins or thefts from vehicles reported. An assault, a burglary, a vehicle theft 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 April 28 to May 4 round-up below several more recent items.

Recent public safety news

GUN ARREST AFTER CANNABIS DISPENSARY PICK-UP On May 8 at about 8:45 p.m. a BPD officer stopped a car at Telegraph Avenue and Parker Street that had “marijuana smoke emanating from the windows,” said BPD Sgt. Andrew Frankel, department spokesman. The officer spoke with four people in the vehicle “who said they were in Berkeley to pick up medical marijuana at a dispensary.” The officer searched the car and found a loaded handgun in the driver’s purse. She said she recently bought it online and that it was unregistered, according to BPD. The 28-year-old Antioch woman, Sarah Hezlitt, was arrested. She has been released from custody and is scheduled to enter a plea Tuesday at the Wiley W. Manuel Courthouse in downtown Oakland.

ARREST ME, PLEASE? A man called into the BART Dispatch Center on May 7 at about 3:20 p.m. “and stated that he had a stay away order from BART and wanted to be placed under arrest.” The man, who was calling from the downtown Berkeley BART station, was placed under arrest and taken to the Berkeley City Jail where he was booked in connection with the stay-away order. Stephan Benjamin, 35, remains in custody at Santa Rita Jail. He appears to have been sentenced, according to sheriff’s office records online. He’s not scheduled for another hearing until April 2017.

COCAINE SALES AND FIREARM ARREST Berkeley police arrested Leon Johnson, 34, on April 27 in connection with a slew of drug and firearm possession violations. Johnson, who was arrested in Oakland, remains in custody at Santa Rita Jail with a bail of $240,000. Among other issues, Johnson was arrested on suspicion of possession for sale of cocaine, transporting a controlled substance for sale, and sales of more than 28.5 grams of cocaine; being a felon in possession of a firearm and carrying a loaded firearm as well as numerous other firearm-related violations; and receiving known stolen property worth more than $950, identity theft and possessing the identification of 10 or more people with intent to defraud. He is scheduled for a motion hearing May 20 at the René C. Davison Courthouse in Oakland. Berkeleyside has requested additional information from the district attorney’s office. … Continue reading »

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Update: Homeless man robbed at City Hall by teen with replica pellet gun

2180Milvia
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Update, May 12, 5:20 p.m. The Police Department has just released some additional details about Wednesday’s robbery, which took place — as it turns out — in the public men’s restroom outside City Hall to the west. (The initial report from police was that this took place “in the basement bathroom.” But things can change as more information becomes available.)

A homeless man was using the bathroom when three people robbed him, as Berkeleyside previously reported. “During the confrontation, the armed suspect struck the victim with the handgun — a realistic looking plastic pellet gun — and the pellet gun broke apart from the impact. The suspects fled,” according to police.

The man flagged down a BPD officer after seeing one of the teens run into the Berkeley High School campus: “A Berkeley High School employee, unaware of the robbery, contacted the suspect, whom he had followed into a building, and escorted him out of the building, and off the campus grounds, where he saw the School Resource Officer. The suspect was identified and arrested, and taken to Juvenile Hall. The victim suffered minor injuries, and declined medical attention. The investigation in this case is continuing.”

Original story, May 11, 2:08 p.m. Police arrested a 16-year-old Berkeley boy Tuesday morning after a robbery at gunpoint in the City Hall basement bathroom, authorities have reported.

The incident took place at 2180 Milvia St. where the city of Berkeley’s main offices are located. A reader saw police at Berkeley High School, across the street from city hall, and asked Berkeleyside to find out more. … Continue reading »

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