Category Archives: Crime

Crime

Police seek man after robbery of 70-year-old woman

Police say this Ford was used in Monday's robbery. Photo: BPD
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Police are asking for the public’s help to find a man who grabbed the bag of a 70-year-old Berkeley woman earlier this week and shoved her to the ground.

The man had said “hi” to the woman as she passed him while she was taking a walk at about 4 p.m. Monday in the 1300 block of Campus Drive, near Glendale Avenue.

When he shoved her, the woman fell down, causing minor injuries, said Berkeley Police spokesman Sgt. Andrew Frankel.

The man was described as 35 to 40 years old, 5 foot 10 to 6 feet tall, with a “semi stocky” build. He was wearing dark clothing and possibly a beanie hat. The vehicle appeared to be a dark blue or black Ford F-150 pickup truck with a distinctive camper shell. (Scroll down for photographs.)

Alert neighbors began to circulate the man’s photograph on Nextdoor and Twitter earlier this week.

A woman who identified herself as the victim posted the following statement on Nextdoor: “The police seemed to think that the car was stolen since one window was broken. Btw, the police, the firemen were wonderful, as was Kaiser who gave me quite a few stitches on my face. No fun. Be careful but don’t stop walking in the hills because of one incident! We have posted the … photos on telephone poles in our area & will continue to do so. The police think that the attacker, seeing a photo of himself, could easily be frightened out of the area. The man’s face is wider than the photo. When I think that he even said ‘hi’ to me before attacking! The nerve.” … Continue reading »

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Crime

Authorities: Man admitted to killing, tried to bargain with God, in secret recording by Berkeley police

A tree outside the Berkeley Zen Center has become a memorial to Nancy McClellan. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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Left alone in the back of a police car, authorities say an 18-year-old man arrested after the stabbing of a 72-year-old woman in South Berkeley in 2014 confessed to killing “the old lady” and told God he did not want to go to jail for life.

Unbeknownst to him, his statements were recorded by Berkeley Police investigators. Those statements, as well as a secretly recorded jailhouse conversation between him and his mother that led police to the alleged murder weapon, were presented Wednesday by the prosecution during the second day of the preliminary hearing for Kamau Berlin.

Berlin, now 20, is facing a murder charge as well as other serious felonies for the September 2014 killing and attempted carjacking of Nancy McClellan. This week, an Alameda County Superior Court judge heard testimony and evidence in the case against Berlin. Judge Rhonda Burgess said she will not decide until May 4 whether to send the case forward to trial though both sides have rested.

Read complete coverage of the case.

Berkeley Police Sgt. Peter Hong testified Wednesday about a significant break in the investigation that took place shortly after Berlin’s arrest. Concerned McClellan may have been sexually assaulted, police took Berlin for an exam Sept. 19 to test him for any signs of that possibility. (The results of that exam were not presented during this week’s two-day hearing, which began Tuesday.)

Officers had to wait for the medical examiner to arrive, and left Berlin alone and handcuffed in a police car, Hong said. A detective secretly left a recorder on the front seat. Hong testified Wednesday about the evidence he said the recording contained when he listened to it. The recording was not played in court.

Hong said Berlin was “thinking out loud,” talking to himself, when he “admitted to killing ‘the old lady.'”

“‘Work with me, God, I know I did this, I stabbed the lady,'” Hong said he heard on the recording. Berlin made comments about how bad the situation would look in court, according to Hong: the way the woman’s pants had been pulled down, and how he had run from police. He observed that police had not found “the brass knuckles,” and said someone behind him had seen what happened.

Hong later added that Berlin mentioned the words “trying” and “carjacking,” and said: “I killed her. She didn’t deserve it.” He told God he did not want to be sent to jail for life, Hong said. … Continue reading »

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Crime

Witnesses to fatal Berkeley attack did not see killer’s face

Nancy McClellan. Photo: David Gallagher
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An Alameda County Superior Court judge is expected to decide this week whether the case against a former Berkeley Technology Academy student charged with murder and other serious crimes will continue on to trial.

Kamau Berlin, then 18, was arrested Sept. 19, 2014, after a brief police chase about a block from where 72-year-old Nancy McClellan had been left bleeding from life-threatening neck wounds in the back of her green Honda Civic. It was 4:30 p.m. on a Friday. McClellan had been attending a wedding at the nearby Berkeley Zen Center, where she was a member and also a gardener.

Witnesses in the area, both civilians and police officers, testified Tuesday as the preliminary hearing in the case began before Judge Rhonda Burgess. Two neighbors saw a young man matching Berlin’s description in the immediate vicinity of the Honda, at Otis and Russell streets, but neither saw the man’s face or felt they had seen it clearly enough to identify Berlin with certainty. Another witness saw a man matching his description running from the scene but, again, did not see his face.

A Berkeley Police officer who arrived on Otis, just south of Russell, testified Tuesday he made eye contact with Berlin minutes after the initial call came into dispatch. The officer, Christopher Schulz, said Berlin was walking casually down the street. The two made eye contact after Schulz pulled up in his police cruiser. Then Berlin took off running, said Schulz, hopping a 6-foot wrought-iron security gate to access a back yard on Otis before jumping a wooden fence onto a detached garage and disappearing westbound toward Martin Luther King Jr. Way. He was arrested a short time later.

Read complete coverage of the case.

The prosecution is expected to present evidence Wednesday to explain how a conversation between Berlin and his mother led police to the murder weapon, which was recovered near the area where police took him into custody. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley post office protesters cleared out in early morning raid

Post Office Inspectors cleared protesters from the steps after nearly 17 months. Photo: Lance Knobel
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Just before 5 a.m. Tuesday, U.S. Post Office inspectors cleared the protester encampment on the steps and on the side of the downtown Berkeley Post Office. Protesters from First They Came for the Homeless and the Berkeley Post Office Defenders had occupied part of the post office property for over 17 months.

“Since November 2014 we’ve been giving out information, providing materials saying you can’t stay,” said Jeff Fitch, a spokesman for the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. “We’ve been encouraging people to not camp there. The decision was made to come in this week and conduct the operation.”

Read more about the Berkeley Post Office.

Fitch said eight people were removed from the site and four federal misdemeanor citations were issued, for obstructing access and for not following instructions from authorized postal security officers. No arrests were made.

According to Mike Wilson, an organizer of the Post Office Defenders, protesters had been assured that they would not be removed for trespassing. He said there were five protesters at the post office overnight and a number of homeless people not associated with the protest in the garden on Milvia Street.  … Continue reading »

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Crime

Ex-girlfriend of accused killer: ‘I feel scared to this day’

Darnell Williams Jr. mugshot, courtesy of NBC Bay Area
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Testimony continued Monday in the case against a man with ties to a Berkeley gang who is accused of gunning down a little girl at a slumber party and fatally shooting a Berkeley father in the back as he ran for his life and pleaded for mercy.

Defense attorneys for Darnell Williams Jr., 25, have said hard evidence is lacking. They have questioned the credibility of two of the prosecution’s central witnesses and asked the jury not to be swayed by the heartbreaking killing of the little girl, for which they say their client is not responsible. That shooting sent shockwaves through the community and is still difficult for seasoned first-responders to discuss.

Williams could face the death penalty if convicted. He has been charged with the murder, during a sleepover in Oakland’s Dimond District, of 8-year-old Alaysha Carradine, with a firearm, while “lying in wait,” which is a special circumstance that carries extra weight; the attempted murders of three other people at the sleepover, two children and their grandmother; and shooting at an inhabited dwelling.

See the Berkeleyside crime section.

Williams has also been charged with killing 22-year-old Anthony “Tone” Medearis III in Berkeley less than two months later during a robbery, in part because of rumors Medearis had “snitched” to police in 2011. During that shooting, Williams’ nephew was also struck near the eye with a bullet fragment from Williams’ gun, according to the prosecution. … Continue reading »

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Police arrest 1 after staff at Berkeley McDonald’s attacked

McDonald's Photo Tracey Taylor
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Berkeley Police and Berkeley Fire responded to an incident Thursday afternoon at the McDonald’s in downtown Berkeley in which a person jumped the counter and attacked several employees.

There was also a report of an additional victim being attacked at a laundromat nearby.

“The suspect was not armed, but apparently struck or choked at least two individuals — one at McDonalds, one at the laundromat, without warning or provocation,” said Berkeley Police Captain Andrew Greenwood. … Continue reading »

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Crime

Crime in Berkeley: Gold-painted man arrested after freeway hit-and-runs, fugitive arrested in Tennessee, 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.

From March 17-23, there were reports of six robberies10 burglaries16 assaults or batteriesfour weapon-involved calls and three sexual assaults, according to CrimeMapping.com. There were also 18 stolen vehicles10 disturbances and 33 auto break-ins or thefts from vehicles reported. A robbery, two burglaries and a vehicle theft were reported to the University of California Police Department (UCPD). Arrested or charged individuals in this blotter are presumed innocent. Find our March 17-23 round-up below.

Recent public safety incidents

FIGHT ON BART The BART Police responded Wednesday at about 5:30 p.m. to the downtown Berkeley station for a report of a fight in progress on a Richmond-bound train. When they got there they were told one man had punched another passenger, also male, twice in the face. A witness followed the assailant as he left the station and helped police find him. The victim identified that man as the person who had punched him, and he was arrested and taken to Berkeley Jail. The victim was evaluated by medical personnel at the scene and released.

ALERT TO LOCAL BUSINESSES The Berkeley and Oakland chambers of commerce are warning their members and other local businesses about two men they say have been misleading local businesses to try to sell services and get information. According to the Oakland Chamber: “These individuals have been aggressively visiting and calling businesses selling memberships and promoting a wide array of services including text marketing and credit card payment solutions, then asking for credit card information over the phone to set up new accounts. After collecting credit card information, it is unclear how they are using the data.” The Oakland Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce says it has no affiliation with the the group. Said a Berkeley Chamber of Commerce rep, the men are “attempting to defraud Berkeley businesses while falsely representing themselves as representatives of the Berkeley Chamber.” Police were contacted but, according to the Berkeley Chamber, said this wasn’t a crime. … Continue reading »

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Neighbors, police vow new push on crime prevention

Community members and police met Monday night to discuss crime prevention efforts. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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A Berkeley community group focused on crime prevention pledged to up its game Monday night, and representatives from the Police Department said they plan to ramp up their own collaboration with neighbors.

Those efforts may be particularly important given the double-digit increase in crime Berkeley saw in 2015. Berkeley police officials reported in March that overall Part 1 crime — a federal designation for the most serious incidents — was up 16% in 2015 compared to the prior year. Violent crime increased 20%, especially in the area of robberies, while property crime was up 16%. There was a 28% increase in vehicle thefts as compared to the prior year.

And, already this year, there has been an unsolved series of high-profile sexual assaults and at least half a dozen shootings.

The group that met Monday, the Berkeley Safe Neighborhoods Committee (BSNC), has worked for some time to provide a city-wide scope to, and coordination about, block-level crime concerns. It meets monthly with police and sometimes takes positions on public safety problems, primarily through letters to council and other city leaders. But active participation in the organization has languished, and its board is working to re-energize the group, which has more than 100 people on its email list.

What’s your neighborhood group? Please let Berkeleyside know.*

One way the BSNC hopes to revive itself is through Facebook: The group has launched a new Facebook page to help neighbors connect. Former Berkeley Mayor Shirley Dean, who helps oversee the BSNC, announced the Facebook page Monday night. Dean said the board is committed to a “coordinated approach” that involves all the city’s Neighborhood Watch and disaster preparedness groups that want to join forces. … Continue reading »

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After latest shooting, neighbors talk public safety

The corner of Delaware and San Pablo, the site of three shootings in recent years. Photo: Emily Dugdale.
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“How much is too much?”

The question lingered in the air as folding chairs were put away following what was described as an “action plan” meeting Saturday convened by Berkeley Councilwoman Linda Maio held at the Adult School in West Berkeley. Long-time residents joined young families, as well as a representative from the Berkeley Police Department, to discuss potential neighborhood changes following the March 15 shooting of a 28-year-old man on the corner of Delaware and San Pablo Avenue outside of Bing’s Liquors.

“I know you feel the same way I do,” Maio told an agitated crowd of approximately 40 neighbors who shared accounts of witnessing substance abuse, public defection and “sleaze” centered on a small strip of bustling San Pablo Avenue. “This is not new,” she said.

March’s incident marks the third shooting in the area in as many years. In February 2013, Zontee Jones, 34, was shot in broad daylight on Delaware Street and San Pablo Avenue. Six months later, on the other side of San Pablo at Delaware, Dustin Bynum, 24, was shot at close range in front of Bing’s Liquors. … Continue reading »

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King Middle School reports suspicious activity after spate of attempted child abductions in Berkeley

Two boys walking home from King Middle School on Monday April 4 reported suspicious activity from a man in parked car at Colusa Avenue near Marin Avenue. Image: Google Maps
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Two Berkeley middle schoolers escaped a possible attempted child abduction Monday after a man in a parked car beckoned them to come over and said he would drive them home.

Janet Levenson, the principal of Berkeley’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Middle School, on Monday night emailed the school community with information on what she termed “suspicious activity reported by King students at Colusa and Marin.”

Read more about attempted child abductions in Berkeley.

“I don’t want to alarm you,” she wrote, “but a parent just shared with me that two King students were walking home after school Monday on Colusa near Marin when a man parked in an older 4-door blue car that looked “scrappy” asked them to come over and that he would give them a ride. The boys ran. They did not get a look at the man. He was parked across the street and when the boys heard him asking them to come, they quickly determined it wasn’t right and they ran without looking back. They heard him add that he would drive them home. This incident has been reported to the Berkeley Police Department.” … Continue reading »

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Crime

Judge orders Williams trial to continue after defendant threatens suicide, violence

Darnell Williams Jr. mugshot, courtesy of NBC Bay Area
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After an unexpected series of events, an Alameda County Superior Court judge offered to lend his own clean underwear, trousers and socks to a defendant standing trial for multiple murders.

Testimony was slated to resume at 9:30 Monday morning in the Darnell Williams Jr. case, but was postponed for what initially were unknown reasons. The jurors all were in attendance on a separate floor but never came down to the courtroom.

At 11:15 a.m., Judge Jeffrey Horner went on the record with prosecutor John Brouhard and defense attorneys  and . Defendant Williams was not present.

Read complete coverage of the case.

Horner then summarized what had taken place earlier in the day. He said deputies had reported several issues that had come up with Williams since the weekend.

First, deputies had tried to move Williams from Santa Rita Jail in Dublin to the North County jail in Oakland, but he told them he did not want that. Billups said his client reported that the move would cause him “nothing but trouble,” either with inmates or deputies, but did not elaborate.

Williams then told the deputies over the weekend that he was suicidal. Under sheriff’s office protocol, he was taken to a separate facility and given a different set of clothing.

Monday morning, Williams refused to come to court, the judge said, because he had not had a chance to shower and did not have clean underwear or socks. He told the deputies, Horner reported, that he “would fight” if they forced him to come to court. … Continue reading »

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Crime

Crime in Berkeley: Sexual assault at Seabreeze, hammer attack at Ohlone Park, robberies at Cal, 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.

From March 10-16, there were reports of three robberiesthree burglaries17 assaults or batteriesone weapon-involved call and one sexual assault, according to CrimeMapping.com. There were also nine stolen vehicles14 disturbances and 29 auto break-ins or thefts from vehicles reported. One vehicle theft was reported to the University of California Police Department (UCPD). Arrested or charged individuals in this blotter are presumed innocent. Find our March 10-16 round-up below some of the most newsworthy incidents from the past week.

The latest public safety incidents

TWO ROBBERIES AROUND CAMPUS UCPD reported two robberies around campus Tuesday, March 29. At 7:05 p.m., a 19-year-old student was walking in the Ellsworth Parking Structure (at Haste Street) when two males approached him. One held his arms while the other went through his pockets and took his wallet. Police couldn’t find the suspects. One was described as black, in his mid-20s, about 5 feet 10 with a black hooded sweatshirt and blue jeans. The other was of unknown race with a red flannel shirt, tan cargo shorts and long white socks.

The next incident took place at 9:30 p.m. on Spieker Plaza, near the Octagon Bridge, when two women sitting on a bench asked to borrow the phone of an 18-year-old student. He agreed, but when he tried to get the phone back, they threatened him and ran off toward Shattuck Avenue. Police searched but could not find the women. One was described as black, in her 20s, about 5 feet 8 to 5 feet 10 inches tall, with an athletic build, wearing a gray sweatshirt and black pants. The other was an East Indian female, 19 to 20 years old, with braided hair wearing all black clothes. UCPD asks anyone with information to call 510-642-6760.

SEXUAL ASSAULT AT SEABREEZE Police responded Monday, March 28, at 10:30 p.m. to a report of a sexual assault in the parking lot of the Seabreeze Market (University Avenue and Frontage) at Eastshore State Park. East Bay Regional Park District police interviewed the woman, who was treated and released from a local hospital. The man and woman knew each other. Police were working earlier this week to find the man, said EBRPD spokeswoman Carolyn Jones.

CROWBAR ASSAULT AT ASHBY BART Also Monday, an Ashby BART station agent said a man with a metal crowbar tried to assault him at about 5:40 p.m. The agent was able to disarm the man and escape without injury, but the man left the area. Berkeley Police officers found the man at a nearby gas station and took him into custody. He was arrested on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon and taken to jail. His name was not immediately available. … Continue reading »

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Crime

Years on, Alaysha Carradine killing is still haunting

Alaysha Carradine, courtesy of family
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As testimony began Tuesday in the Darnell Williams Jr. murder trial, veteran first responders were overcome by emotion on the stand as they recalled the 8-year-old girl fatally shot during a sleepover in 2013, and the courtroom was captivated by the sweetness of the little girl who survived the violence.

Most of the adults who testified Tuesday at times teared up as they thought back to July 17, 2013, and described how they knew or came into contact that day with Alaysha Carradine. Carradine was simply a visitor at an Oakland apartment targeted by a man bent on revenge for a fatal shooting earlier that day in Berkeley, authorities say. The estranged girlfriend of the man later charged in the Berkeley case lived at the apartment with their two children, but the couple had no contact.

Read complete coverage of the case.

Defense attorneys say Williams is not the shooter, and that there just isn’t enough evidence to link him to the crime. Williams, 25, has also been charged with the murder of Anthony Medearis III in Berkeley in September 2013 and could face the death penalty if convicted of both murders at the conclusion of the trial, which could last into June. … Continue reading »

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