Category Archives: Crime

Crime

Man to be sentenced after masturbation near kids at park

A man is arrested in Ohlone Park after police responded to a call of a man who was touching his genitals near a group of children, in Berkeley, on Wednesday, Aug 3. Photo: David Yee
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A man with a criminal record for indecent exposure is set to be sentenced this week after Berkeley police officers say he masturbated near playground children at Ohlone Park in August.

According to court papers, Michael Ward, 32, was naked — with only a jacket draped over his lap — when police contacted him Aug. 3 at the North Berkeley park just before 2 p.m. He was on probation for indecent exposure after a 2014 arrest in Berkeley on Fifth Street.

One witness told police Ward was masturbating near a children’s playground while children were in the area. Ward, who has no listed home address, “was seated a few feet away from a playground.” When the witness saw him, he was wearing just socks and a shirt, and had a jacket over his lap.

According to an individual in the area, Ward was a regular camper in the park. … Continue reading »

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Despite hit-and-run, arrest in Berkeley, Uber driver still finds time to charge fee

Image: Google Maps
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A 27-year-old Hayward man dropping off an Uber fare in Berkeley flew into a “fit of rage” when he found his route blocked, then drove into a community service officer repeatedly Saturday night before fleeing police and ultimately being arrested, according to rider and police accounts.

The rider, a UC Berkeley student, and her friend “had to jump out of the moving car after he told us not to get out,” she wrote when she contacted Uber on Sunday.

She was charged $7 for the 4-minute ride. According to Uber, the driver would have had to manually end the trip for the fee to have been charged. The fare has since been refunded.

University of California Police Department spokeswoman Sgt. Sabrina Reich said Tuesday that a driver for a ride-sharing service struck a UCPD community service officer shortly before 10:10 p.m. Saturday.

Reich confirmed the driver, M. Bilal, fled the scene but was found nearby and identified as the driver. He was arrested on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon, the vehicle.

Reich said the officer ultimately reported no injuries. … Continue reading »

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Crime

3 sexual assaults reported at Diplo’s ‘Mad Decent Block Party’ in Berkeley; 2 victims were Cal students

Berkeley's Greek Theatre is a popular concert venue (file photo). Photo: Thomas Hawk
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Reports have been coming out from authorities throughout the day Monday about what is now described as at least three sexual assaults during a concert at Berkeley’s Greek Theatre on Saturday night.

The University of California Police Department did not name the concert, but the event is listed online as Diplo’s “Mad Decent Block Party” tour. The 18-and-over concert was listed as sold out on the organizer’s website. (Berkeleyside has reached out for a comment but had not heard back as of publication time.)

According to three statements put out by UCPD on Monday, the agency got a report at 7 a.m. Sunday of a sexual assault that had taken place at the concert: “The unaffiliated female victim was attending the concert and met a stranger who sexually assaulted her at the event.”

UCPD spokeswoman Sgt. Sabrina Reich said she could not release the victim’s age or any other information about her or the incident. … Continue reading »

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Animal-rights activists disrupt Chez Panisse service

chez-panisse-photo-amanda Marsalis
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Berkeley police were called to world-famous restaurant Chez Panisse on Friday night after a group of animal-rights protesters stormed into the dining room and disrupted dinner service.

About 10 people carrying flowers from the group Direct Action Everywhere walked into the downstairs portion of Chez Panisse and asked for the diners’ attentions, according to a press release issued by the group. (Update: See below for a statement issued by Chez Panisse on Monday Sept. 12.)

“I come to you today with a message of compassion,” Matt Johnson, one of the activists, told those seated at tables covered with white tablecloths. “A message on behalf on the billions of animals exploited, who are tortured and killed by humans every year. We are told a lie … that animals exist as commodities for human use… Animals are living feeling individuals. They value their lives and their freedom the same as you and I do. They experience the same pain, the same joy, the same love of life and they have it have it ripped away from them and are brutally killed for the mere crime of being different than ourselves.”

The invasion into Chez Panisse is part of DxE’s “Flowers for Animals” campaign, “which encourages activists to peacefully speak out in stores and restaurants that serve products from animals killed for food about violence against animals on farms across the United States,” according to the press release.

The incident started around 10 p.m. but Chez Panisse management didn’t call the Berkeley Police Department until 11:00 p.m., according to Lt. Alyson Hart.

A Chez Panisse employee described the animal-rights activists as busting into the restaurant “screaming and yelling.”

The group, which was 10-15 strong, according to Hart, refused to leave the restaurant, which was when the restaurant decided to call police. (Update: The group involved two 18-year-olds, a man and woman, from Pleasanton. No other information was available about its members.) … Continue reading »

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Crime

Berkeley police seek 2 teens after armed robbery

Police cruisers, January 2015. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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Police responded to an armed robbery report involving juveniles at Stuart and California streets in South Berkeley on Saturday just before 9 p.m.

Berkeley Police Lt. Alyson Hart, watch commander, said two juveniles with a gun walked up behind another youth and robbed that person. She said both suspects wore dark hooded sweatshirts and jeans.

According to scanner traffic reviewed by Berkeleyside, two individuals identified as juveniles robbed another youth of a backpack and phone at about 9 p.m. or several minutes earlier.

The victim was identified over the scanner as a 13-year-old boy.

The robbers were identified as two black teenagers, 15 and 16 years old, who ran west on Stuart from California after the incident. They appeared to be 5 foot 7 and 150-200 pounds, one in a black hooded sweatshirt and another in a red hooded sweatshirt and blue jeans. They were armed with a handgun, according to scanner traffic reviewed by Berkeleyside. … Continue reading »

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Crime

Breaking: Berkeley police respond to stabbing, crash

Berkeley police are having a busy night Saturday. Photo: Alan Dyck
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Berkeley police officers are having a busy night Saturday, with a stabbing on Russell Street followed by an unrelated crash involving a vehicle and bike on Ashby Avenue.

Lt. Alyson Hart, BPD watch commander, said the stabbing, at Russell and King Street, did not appear to be life-threatening.

A reader reported “Multiple police and ambulances on Russell” just before 7:35 p.m.

The crash, at Ashby and Martin Luther King Jr. Way, came in at about 7:40 p.m. … Continue reading »

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Crime

Berkeley crime log: Teen nabbed after robbery attempt and car crash, drinking at Cal, elder abuse arrest, more

The Brower Center evacuation. Photo: Jay Rooney
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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. 19-25, there were reports of four robberies17 burglaries16 assaults or batteriesno weapon-involved calls and three felony sexual assaults, according to CrimeMapping.com. There were also 11 stolen vehicles20 disturbances and 31 auto break-ins or thefts from vehicles reported. A robbery, three burglaries and a vehicle theft, 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. 19-25 round-up below several more recent items.

Recent public safety news

OAKLAND TEEN ARRESTED AFTER ROBBERY ATTEMPT An 18-year-old from Oakland was arrested after trying to rob someone outside the Starry Plough on Sunday night. BPD watch commander Lt. Alyson Hart said officers received good suspect and vehicle descriptions. A short time later, “an officer tried to stop a vehicle that matched the description. The vehicle did not stop and the officer followed it a short distance into Oakland before letting it go. As he was concluding his area check he saw that the vehicle had crashed and someone was running from the car. The suspect was caught and arrested several blocks away. This case is still very much in the early stages of the investigation.” Police arrested Isaac Rojas on suspicion of attempted robbery and resisting arrest; he could be sent to prison if convicted. Rojas is being held with a bail of $30,000 and is scheduled for a preliminary hearing Sept. 20, according to Alameda County sheriff’s office records online.

ROBBERY ALERT There were two other robberies in Berkeley on Sunday, at 3:40 p.m. in the 1900 block of San Pablo Avenue, at 5 p.m. in the 1900 block of Shattuck.

DRINKING AT CAL BPD reported 551 alcohol-related citations, and 17 in-custody arrests during the last two weekends in August in the South Campus area as part of a coordinated effort with a number of other law enforcement agencies: “Citations were written for a number of offenses including Open Containers, Selling/Furnishing Alcohol to a Minor, Minor in Possession, and Possession of a Fake ID for the Purposes of Purchasing Alcohol. If cited for one of these offenses a person could face punishments which range from a fine, community service, to the loss of one’s driving privileges (depending on the offense) for up to a year. Arrests were made this year for Public Intoxication, Armed Robbery, Assault with a Deadly Weapon, and Petty Theft.” Last year, which was described by BPD as a record year for enforcement, led to 423 arrests and citations. See last year’s Berkeleyside story describing the annual enforcement effort. Read more about drinking at Cal. … Continue reading »

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Man, 58, victim of attempted robbery in Berkeley

The downtown Berkeley Walgreens. Image: Google Maps
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A 58-year-old man outside the downtown Berkeley Walgreens was nearly robbed early Friday morning, authorities report.

According to a notice released by the University of California Police Department late Friday afternoon, the man was walking at 6:25 a.m. when the suspect tried to take his property.

“The suspect was unsuccessful and fled the area,” according to a UCPD statement. “The victim was not injured during the encounter.”

Police checked the area but could not find the suspect.

He was described as a 25-year-old black man with medium complexion and a thin build wearing a blue or gray shirt.  … Continue reading »

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Crime

Update: Man taken to Highland with serious injuries after road rage assault; driver arrested

Berkeley police cruiser (file photo). Photo: Emilie Raguso
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Update, 5:10 p.m. One man has been arrested after Thursday’s road rage incident in Berkeley that led to another man being taken to the hospital with serious injuries.

Watch commander Lt. Dan Montgomery said one motorist drove into the other one just as he was exiting his vehicle following the dispute, which happened on Russell Street by Grove Park, west of Martin Luther King Jr. Way.

Police are still investigating whether the other driver may also face arrest.

Montgomery said that, though there had been earlier reports of a possible firearm, no weapon was recovered. The driver who ultimately was arrested did remain on scene when police arrived.

No further information was immediately available but Berkeleyside will update this story if additional detail is provided.

Original story, 2:26 p.m. A motorist has been taken to the hospital with serious injuries after a two-car crash that may have stemmed from a verbal altercation in South Berkeley, authorities report. … Continue reading »

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Crime

Carjacking of older Berkeley woman ends with arrests

Berkeley police cruisers (file), April 2013. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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A woman described as elderly was nearly killed Tuesday evening in Berkeley during a carjacking that led to two arrests in Oakland on Wednesday morning, authorities report.

According to the Berkeley Police Department, the dispatch center got a report of a crash involving a vehicle and pedestrian at about 5:40 p.m. at California and Oregon streets in South Berkeley.

“Officers responded to the scene and found an elderly female victim on the ground with life-threatening injuries,” according to a statement released at 4 p.m. The woman was taken to the hospital for surgery for her injuries but is expected to survive.

BPD spokesman Sgt. Andrew Frankel said he could not release the woman’s age so as not to jeopardize the ongoing investigation. She is a Berkeley resident.

Initial information was challenging to get because of a language barrier, BPD reported.

Police later determined the incident was “more than a case of hit and run.”Continue reading »

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Berkeley music collective honors slain rapper ‘AyeGee’

Neighborhood Heavy
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[Editor’s Note: Berkeleyside freelancer Delency Parham knew Alex Goodwin Jr. This story includes some of Parham’s own reflections, as a young Black man himself, on the loss.]

Berkeley-based music collective Neighborhood Heavy honored slain group member Alex “AyeGee” Goodwin Jr. on Friday with the release of a five-track mixtape titled, “#LongLiveAyeGee.”

The project features five previously unreleased songs from Goodwin, who was shot and killed earlier this month on the front porch of his South Berkeley home. Along with the rest of Neighborhood Heavy, the 22-year-old Berkeley native had been hoping one day to make music his full-time work.

Now, as friends and family mourn his death, members of Neighborhood Heavy say they are hopeful their friend and brother can live on through their music.

Goodwin was born and raised in South Berkeley. A product of all Berkeley schools, parks, and recreation centers, he epitomized what it meant to be from this city.

See the GoFundMe page.

His ability to be there when people needed him most is what allowed him to impact so many lives in such a brief period. Not only was he a son, he was an uncle, an older brother, a grandson and a companion to many. Like most young men, he had a passion for sports; some might even describe him as a Golden State “Warriors fanatic.” … Continue reading »

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Crime

Stolen truck owners lead alleged thief into CHP custody

It's not every day a stolen truck turns up in a police parking lot. Photo: CHP Oakland
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The owners of a stolen truck managed to trick the apparent thief into driving straight into the CHP parking lot Tuesday after the Berkeley man tried to sell the owners diapers on the street, authorities report.

Oakland California Highway Patrol spokesman Officer Sean Wilkenfeld said 49-year-old Brett Walker of Berkeley stole a pick-up truck (above) from North Oakland on Monday night.

“The registered owners went to look for their truck this morning and saw it parked a few blocks from where it was stolen,” he said Tuesday. Walker was inside.

As the owners went to call the police, Walker began to drive away, Wilkenfeld said.

They followed the stolen truck until it stopped again a few blocks later.

“The registered owners parked within sight of their truck and called police again,” he said, in a post on Facebook. “This is where it gets interesting…” Continue reading »

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Man charged after attack, threats outside police station

Berkeley Police station. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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A felon who violently attacked another man outside the Berkeley Police Department, and threatened to kill him if he was Jewish, has been charged with two felonies by the Alameda County district attorney’s office, authorities report.

The attack happened at 3:10 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 18, at 2100 Martin Luther King Jr. Way.

According to court papers, 50-year-old William Sermon tried to choke the victim with both hands “and attempted to gouge the victim’s eyes out with his thumbs.”

Police said Sermon also threatened to kill the victim several times, “and stated that if the victim was at least twenty five percent Jewish he would kill him.”

The victim was cut above his right eye during the assault. He was still able to identify Sermon as his attacker after police tracked Sermon down the next day. … Continue reading »

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