Category Archives: Crime

Crime

Convicted robber, with 15 prior felonies, back in court Tuesday after new Berkeley robbery

The Artist & Craftsmen Supply shop in Berkeley. Photo: Google Maps
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A man authorities say threatened to have a gun when he robbed a Berkeley art supply shop clerk is set to return to court Tuesday to find out if a judge will order him to stand trial.

Bruce Wayne Leslie, 65, was on probation and had “an extensive history of robberies” at the time of his arrest earlier this month, authorities said. He is being held on $1 million bail, according to online records from the Alameda County sheriff’s office.

According to the Berkeley Police Department, Leslie entered the Artist & Craftsman Supply shop — at 2573 Shattuck Ave. — at about 4:15 p.m. Aug. 8 and demanded money from the register. He threatened to have a gun and told the assistant manager to “hurry up,” according to court papers.

“The assistant manager was afraid of Leslie hurting her and gave him money from the register,” police wrote.”Leslie grabbed the money from the assistant manager’s hand and walked out of the store.”

Another store staffer followed Leslie about four blocks south on Shattuck until police arrived. According to court papers, he “did not follow … orders and had to be forcefully stopped.” … Continue reading »

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Wildfire app aims to put safety alerts in public’s hands

Wildfire co-founders, from left to right: Hriday Kemburu (CEO and programmer), Tim Hyon and Jay Patel (programmers), and Vinay Ramesh (business). Photo: Jaskirat Gaelan
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[Editor’s note: Berkeleyside is teaming up with Wildfire to push out crime news notifications through Wildfire’s mobile app. Download the app and enable push notifications to get quick alerts about public safety news, and make sure to follow Berkeleyside on Twitter and Facebook for the latest information.]

With public safety news, speed can be of the essence. That’s why four recent UC Berkeley graduates have created a crime-alert app that lets people share information quickly and easily right from their phones about potentially dangerous situations.

The mobile app, which is free to download, is called Wildfire. It allows anyone to post information from their cell phones about crimes, car crashes, fires and other incidents of concern. For those familiar with the Waze app — where users share real-time traffic info — it’s a similar concept but it’s focused on public safety.

Download the Wildfire app.

Wildfire launched earlier this year but, now that students are coming back to the UC Berkeley campus for the fall semester, its founders are ramping up efforts to spread the word about its existence.

It’s not just for students. Anyone with a mobile phone can use it, though most of the app’s users — and most of its posts — are in the Berkeley area. The more people who use it to post about incidents, the more robust the app will become.

“There’s literally nothing like it,” said Caroline Winnett, executive director of UC Berkeley’s SkyDeck, which selected Wildfire earlier this summer to work in its startup accelerator as part of its six-month mentorship program. “There is no other app that does what Wildfire is trying to do, and it’s a much-needed solution that can really impact public safety.”

For those who simply want to see what’s happening around them, there’s a map with pins that show the locations of public safety incidents. Those who want to post alerts can easily do so too. The app, which is available for iPhone and Android platforms, sends push notifications to mobile phones so its users can quickly learn about public safety reports. There’s also a feature to allow emergency contacts to receive text alerts about incidents, even if they don’t have the app themselves. … Continue reading »

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Crime

Woman pepper-sprayed by would-be robber in Berkeley

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A man who tried to rob a woman in Berkeley, after they arranged online to meet in a downtown parking garage, pepper-sprayed her Sunday before fleeing the scene, authorities report.

UCPD said the attempted robbery took place at about 1:30 p.m. in the parking garage at 1995 University Ave., between Bonita Avenue and Milvia Street. The building also houses UC Extension.

The woman had just met the man online and they had then arranged to meet in person, according to UCPD.

When they met in the garage, however, the man tried to rob the woman.

“The victim resisted and the suspect sprayed her with pepper spray,” according to a statement from UCPD. “The victim screamed and the suspect fled the scene.”

The man was last seen by witnesses running on Berkeley Way westbound.  … Continue reading »

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Crime

Berkeley police action on San Pablo after brawl

Photo: Libby Lee-Egan
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Berkeley police responded to San Pablo Avenue and Cedar Street for a disturbance shortly before noon Saturday.

Berkeley Police Lt. Andrew Rateaver said units are responding to multiple reports of two or three people fighting in the 1700 block of San Pablo.

“Reports from my officers on scene indicate that the fight migrated into the street and was violent,” he said. Officers and Berkeley Fire Department paramedics were on the scene shortly before noon and the investigation is underway.

Libby Lee-Egan told Berkeleyside on Twitter that there was a “street brawl” at San Pablo and Cedar that was blocking traffic at about 11:40 a.m. The fight started in front of the Berkeley Adult School and employees from Enterprise Rent-A-Car tried to break it up, she said.  … Continue reading »

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Crime

Berkeley homicide victim ID’d as Alex Goodwin Jr., 22

Alex Goodwin. Photo: Alex Goodwin/Twitter
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Twenty-two-year-old Alex Goodwin Jr. has been identified as the person who was fatally shot by San Pablo Park late Thursday night.

Authorities have not released the name, but friends have identified Goodwin online and the family has been informed, according to those familiar with the neighborhood.

Thursday night’s shooting became the first homicide of the year after Goodwin was pronounced dead at Highland Hospital early Friday morning.

Multiple callers reported the sound of gunfire to police just before midnight. Numerous callers said they heard three shots around Mabel and Burnett streets.

Berkeleyside broke the news of the shooting at about 2:20 a.m.

Goodwin lived in the 2900 block of Mabel according to records online. A woman called police around the time of the gunshots to report that her brother had left their home but not come back in, according to scanner recordings reviewed by Berkeleyside.

BPD has not confirmed whether that call referred to Goodwin.

The young man attended Berkeley Arts Magnet, King Middle School and Berkeley High.

In a chilling post on Twitter less than a week ago, Goodwin wrote, “When I die, turnup for me… On Mabel in front of Grams house like I would want you to.” … Continue reading »

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Crime

Update: Man dead after shooting near San Pablo Park

Image: Google Maps
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Berkeley had its first homicide of the year early Friday after a man in his 20s was shot and critically injured near San Pablo Park.

Police called to southwest Berkeley just before midnight following reports of possible gunfire found a young man down in the street who was breathing but unresponsive.

Berkeley Police Sgt. Andrew Frankel said shortly before 4:30 a.m. that the man was later pronounced dead at the hospital.

“We don’t believe that there is an immediate threat to the community as the shooting does not appear to have been random,” he said. “The suspects are still at large. Homicide detectives are on scene and working the investigation.”

Frankel confirmed that dispatchers got numerous calls just before midnight Friday about loud reports — possible gunfire — near Mabel and Burnett streets. Several callers reported hearing what sounded like three gunshots. The location is south of San Pablo Park and north of Ashby Avenue. It’s one block east of San Pablo Avenue.

One woman also called police to say her brother had stepped out of their home in the 2900 block of Mabel and had not come back inside, according to unconfirmed scanner traffic reviewed by Berkeleyside.

Officers who responded to the scene found a 22-year-old man down in the street at Burnett and Mabel. Initially it was unclear whether he had been hit by gunfire. … Continue reading »

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Mother of homicide victim: ‘That bullet was not meant for my daughter’

Marne'e Causey (right) and her mom, Kenitra Love. Photo: Causey family
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The mother of a 23-year-old woman killed last week by gunfire spoke out Wednesday about her daughter’s innocence, her hopes for a music career and her devotion to her family.

“Marne’e did not like violence, she did not like arguing,” said Kenitra Love, mother of Berkeley High graduate Marne’e Maxine Karen Causey. “She wouldn’t argue with anybody. She would walk away first.”

The day Causey was killed, Aug. 9, she had just dropped off several of her younger siblings at her mother’s home. She’d watched them for a couple days to give her mom a break after the family had met up for a birthday party. She’d also dropped off her father at a job interview, and had planned to pick him up later. In the meantime, she was going to meet up with her brother, Bones, so they could go to the music studio together.

They made a stop at a cousin’s home in the 7400 block of Fresno Street in East Oakland. Police say someone opened fire on the home at 3:10 p.m. Causey was hit. She collapsed on the porch and was later pronounced dead at the scene. No arrests have been made.

“My daughter was not targeted,” said Love, who said Causey had no affiliation or involvement with gangs. “That bullet was not meant for my daughter.” … Continue reading »

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Premier Cru owner used coffee shop as hook-up HQ

John Fox, left, at the counter of a Fourth Street store with a young woman. Fox, who admitted to spending $900K to meet women online, drew attention because he showed up so often.
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John Fox, the corrupt owner of wine retailer Premier Cru, didn’t travel far when he spent $900,000 of embezzled funds on women he met online.

The lanky 66-year-old with fading red hair used to meet scantily dressed 20-year-olds at least two or three times a week at Artís Coffee on Berkeley’s Fourth Street, less than a five-minute drive from his offices at 1011 University Ave., according to observers.

Fox met the young women so frequently that workers in the neighborhood took note. Some of them even started to snap photos of Fox with various dates because they were curious how a middle-aged man connected with so many young women who looked 40 years younger than him.

“He picked up girls literally a couple times a week,” said one worker, who asked that his name not be used. “They were always really young. You never saw him with the same girl twice.” … Continue reading »

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Crime

Berkeley crime log: Bullets shot from vehicle, overturned car, lots of arrests, gunfire or fireworks?

A man on Telegraph Avenue is treated Aug. 5 after reportedly being stopped by UCPD for jaywalking and then resisting arrest in some way. Photographer Ted Friedman spoke to the witness, and shared this photograph by Kenneth Lipman. Friedman said the man ultimately was taken from the scene by ambulance. No further information was available.
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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 Aug. 5-11, there were reports of five robberies14 burglaries18 assaults or batteriestwo weapon-involved calls and two sexual assaults, according to CrimeMapping.com. There were also 12 stolen vehiclesseven disturbances and 25 auto break-ins or thefts from vehicles reported. Three attempted robberies and an attempted kidnapping, among other crimes, were reported on CrimeMapping to the University of California Police Department (UCPD). Arrested or charged individuals are presumed innocent. Find the Aug. 5-11 round-up below.

Recent public safety news

GUNFIRE FROM A VEHICLE Someone in a vehicle heading west on Ashby Avenue at 9:40 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 14, “fired several shots in the area of Ashby and Dohr. Nobody was hit,” according to police. The car was gone by the time officers arrived, and no arrests have been made. Casings were located, however.

FIREWORKS OR GUNFIRE? Later on Sunday, a number of questions came in from people asking about possible shots fired in southwest Berkeley. An officer who responded found fireworks that were still hot to the touch, and a smell of smoke in the air, police said. One reader told Berkeleyside the fireworks were set off near Oregon and California streets: “Dispatch said they got 50 911 calls.” A photograph of a fireworks container found in the area appears at the top of this story.

OVERTURNED VEHICLE ON GILMAN Many readers wondered about an overturned car on Gilman Street at Peralta on Monday and asked about what had taken place. Police said one person was taken to the hospital after the crash in the 1200 block of Gilman (between Peralta and Ordway). Both drivers stayed at the scene and cooperated with BPD, said Sgt. Andrew Frankel, police spokesman. The crash happened at about 7:45 a.m. Gilman was closed during the investigation. One reader told us, “The two women in the car that flipped were shaken up but did not leave with the paramedics/ambulance, the driver in the other car did leave in an ambulance but was described as not seriously hurt by a bystander.”  … Continue reading »

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Crime

Man charged after aluminum bat attack in Berkeley

Zuber Awad. Photo: ACSO
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A homeless man charged with felony assault with a deadly weapon after an attack with an aluminum baseball bat in West Berkeley in July is scheduled to appear in court to be sentenced Wednesday.

According to court papers, Zuber Awad, 26, was with another man’s girlfriend at University Avenue and West Frontage Road on July 1 when angry words were exchanged.

Police say Awad then hit the other man with an aluminum baseball bat causing an injury that required eight stitches.

According to scanner traffic reviewed by Berkeleyside, Awad was identified to police as a homeless camper in the area who was known to wear a diving weight around his neck.

Police arrested Awad the day after the baseball bat assault at about 10:10 a.m. at Cedar and Second streets in West Berkeley. According to police, he was on probation at the time of his arrest for battery causing serious bodily injury.

According to police, Awad said he did hit the man but that he did so with his closed fist, not the bat. … Continue reading »

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On the road with the CHP: Your questions answered

Oakland CHP spokesman Officer Sean Wilkenfeld invited Berkeleyside on a ride-along last week. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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Last week, Berkeleyside spent a couple hours with the California Highway Patrol to get a sense of what a normal day on I-80 is like for these officers. There are about 100 officers with the Oakland CHP branch, and they handle the freeways from the southern Oakland border up through Berkeley until Richmond.

Carpool violations, cellphone violations, moving violations: most of the stops fell into these categories. During the ride-along we asked readers to send in questions over social media and Officer Sean Wilkenfeld, spokesman for the local office, provided answers. What does the CHP do about carpool violators, and what can other motorists do? What are the rules about lane splitting and what’s the weirdest call he’s been on? What are the penalties for carpool violation tickets, and what kind of excuses do people give when they get pulled over?

The day ended with a glimpse into a long tunnel that runs beneath the freeway, and a look at vehicles involved in fatal crashes. The Storify post that follows sums it up. … Continue reading »

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Crime

Another Berkeley High alum fatally shot Sunday

A tribute to Craig Cooks-Fletcher: "rip to one of the sweetest souls. Your presence, your heart, & that LAUGH will be missed."  Photo: carena torrissa
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Update, Aug. 20: Scroll down to the bottom of this story to see the memorial flyer created to honor Craig Fletcher-Cooks. Memorial information is included.

Update, Aug. 16: A fundraiser has been launched to help pay for funeral costs for Craig Fletcher-Cooks. A memorial is also being planned. Learn more on the GoFundMe page.

A fundraiser to help the family of Terrence McCrary Jr. has also been set up. Learn more.

Original story, Aug. 15: Another young man who attended Berkeley High School has been identified as the second person fatally shot outside a birthday party in downtown Oakland early Sunday morning.

Friends and others who knew him have identified the young man as 20-year-old Craig Fletcher-Cooks. He and 22-year-old Terrence McCrary Jr. were fatally shot shortly before 1 a.m. Sunday after disputes reportedly broke out between groups at the Prime Development art gallery at 322 15th St.

Police have said a third man with gunshot wounds was taken to the hospital for treatment. … Continue reading »

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Crime

2 BHS grads killed in separate Oakland shootings

Terrence Mack, a 2011 Berkeley High graduate, was shot and killed Sunday morning in Oakland. Photo: Azha Luckman
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Update, Aug. 16: A fundraiser to help the family of Terrence McCrary Jr. has already raised more than $12,000. Learn more.

A fundraiser has also been launched to help pay for funeral costs for Craig Fletcher-Cooks, and a memorial is being planned. Learn more.

Update, Aug. 15: Both young men killed Sunday outside a downtown Oakland art gallery during a birthday party were Berkeley High alumni. See the update.

Original story, Aug. 14: A 2011 Berkeley High graduate was shot and killed Sunday morning during an altercation at a birthday party, one of two Berkeley High School grads killed this week.

Another man also died in Sunday’s shooting and a third was seriously injured, according to Oakland police.

The names of the victims have not been released, but Berkeleyside has learned that one of those shot was 22-year-old Terrence McCrary Jr., a Berkeley resident and a 2011 Berkeley High graduate. McCrary was known to many as Terrence Mack.

Sunday at approximately 12:53 a.m., Oakland police rushed to the 300 block of 15th Street after a report that shots had been fired. Police saw a large number of people fleeing the area, according to a press release. When they arrived, officers found two men suffering from gunshot wounds. Officers conducted first aid until paramedics arrived, but both men were pronounced dead at the scene.

Police found another man with gunshots a few blocks away, according to a statement released by OPD. He was taken by ambulance to an area hospital for treatment. … Continue reading »

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