Tag Archives: Sacramento Street

Op-ed: It should be possible to give police the tools they need while preserving Berkeley’s values

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Late last month, Berkeley police officers responded to an armed and highly dangerous individual in South Berkeley who robbed a laundromat and later attacked an older resident near Sacramento Street. This was a high-stakes operation involving a violent and heartless criminal. While the investigation is ongoing, we’re grateful that no neighbors were hurt in the course of the crime.

Unfortunately, despite following city protocol and being transparent with the media and public, Berkeley police officers were still subjected to armchair political commentary simply … Continue reading »

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Berkeley police defend tactics after laundromat robbery

Police search Sacramento Street, near Dwight Way, for an armed robber who robbed a laundromat, in Berkeley, on Monday, July 27. Photo: David Yee
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One week after a police operation in southwest Berkeley sparked community questions about whether military tools and tactics have been unnecessarily adopted by local departments, the Berkeley Police chief and one of his captains said safety was the overriding concern that drove decision making last Monday.

Threats to officer safety are very real. Police Chief Michael Meehan and Acting Capt. Jennifer Louis answered questions from Berkeleyside on Monday, Aug. 3, less than 24 hours after an officer-involving shooting in Oakland left a local man dead and a police sergeant in serious condition. According to a statement released by the Oakland Police, the man opened fire on officers with an assault rifle after they responded to his home during a sexual assault investigation. And, less than two weeks ago, Hayward Police Sgt. Scott Lunger was fatally shot without warning during a traffic stop.

Meehan said today, however, that it was the specifics of last week’s robbery and assault at a laundromat — “the facts of the individual case…. and the nature of the threat” — that prompted the use July 27 of a police dog from Oakland, an armored vehicle from Alameda and the Berkeley Police Special Response Team, which wears camouflage uniforms when it responds to calls.

Those decisions incited an emotional response from some in the Berkeley community and beyond who said the tactics are evidence of the increasing militarization of local police departments. Many said they were put off by the camouflage uniforms and armored vehicle, in particular. In the Berkeleyside comments, one person called the operation a sign of a “police state” and another decried the “unprecedented show of military force.” Others said police had made the right decisions, acting professionally and efficiently. But even some who made a point to say they support certain police tactics had questions. … Continue reading »

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Crime

Robber with ‘silver teeth’ evades Berkeley police

Police search Sacramento Street, near Dwight Way, for an armed robber who robbed a laundromat, in Berkeley, on Monday, July 27, 2015. Photo: David Yee
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Update, 2:10 p.m. Berkeley police have left the area around Sacramento Street after the search for an armed robber who struck a laundromat Monday morning turned up empty.

According to a 2:02 p.m. Nixle alert sent over email, “The roadways are now open and Berkeley Police are clearing the area. We would like to thank the community for the patience and understanding while we conducted the search.”

The robbery report came in at about 8:30 a.m. from the Wash and Shop laundromat, at 2450 Sacramento St., according to local residents. The robber reportedly used a gun and took cash from the business.

Police said they “arrived on scene and quickly established a perimeter. Members of our Special Response Team were utilized to conduct the search with the assistance of an Oakland Police Department K-9. The suspect was not located and the investigation into this matter continues.”  … Continue reading »

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Crime

Concord man captured, after CHP chase into Berkeley, has history of erratic driving, high-profile arrests

Police officers on Hearst Avenue get a police dog ready to search for the driver of a stolen vehicle, in Berkeley, early Monday, May 18, 2015. Police began chasing the vehicle in Concord, late Sunday, at times going the wrong way on the freeway and city streets. Photo: David Yee
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A Concord man who drove the wrong way on the freeway, and fled from authorities after causing a traffic collision in Berkeley on May 18, was arrested early Wednesday morning.

The California Highway Patrol arrested Jerome Wingert, 32, at around 3:10 a.m. at a Berkeley hotel. The arrest was made by CHP officers with assistance from Berkeley police, according to CHP spokesman Officer Clayton Nett. The exact location of the arrest was not available.

Wingert was arrested on suspicion of evading arrest in a reckless manner, auto theft and driving the wrong way on a freeway, along with a warrant for violating parole.

Wingert has been involved in at least two other high-profile pursuits with Bay Area law enforcement agencies over the past seven years, according to media reports.

The recent chase began on Sunday, May 17, in Concord when police there spotted Wingert in a stolen Honda Accord at 11:30 p.m., according to Officer Sean Wilkenfeld, a CHP spokesman. The driver evaded officers, traveling in the wrong direction on the freeway for about 30 miles, before he crashed in North Berkeley, injuring Zaya Yaro, 45, from Santa Clara, the occupant of a vehicle he caused to overturn on Hearst Avenue. … Continue reading »

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Crime

Hunt in Berkeley after man in stolen car drives wrong way on freeway for 30 miles, crashes, flees

CHP officers pursued a stolen vehicle into Berkeley early Monday. Photo: David Davenport
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Update: 11:20 a.m. The California Highway Patrol is still looking for the suspect in this case. CHP Oakland spokesman Officer Sean Wilkenfeld said the agency has some leads which it is pursuing. Wilkenfeld also confirmed that the victim involved in the vehicle collision on Hearst Avenue was Zaya Yaro, 45, from Santa Clara.

Update, 4:30 a.m. A stolen vehicle pursuit that began near Concord, with the driver traveling the wrong direction on the freeway for about 30 miles, ended with a crash in Berkeley around midnight, but authorities are still trying to find the driver. … Continue reading »

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Monte Cristo, closed briefly by fire, to re-open today

Taqueria Monte Cristo was closed briefly Wednesday by a fire on the roof. Photo: Chris Draper
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A popular Mexican restaurant on University Avenue was closed briefly by a small fire Wednesday afternoon, but the business is set to re-open today around lunchtime.

The Berkeley Fire Department initially was dispatched for a report of a kitchen fire at Taqueria Monte Cristo just after 4:30 p.m., said Avery Webb, Berkeley’s deputy fire chief.

Four engines, a ladder truck, an ambulance and a battalion chief were dispatched to the scene, at 1446 University (between Sacramento and Acton streets).

Webb said responding firefighters found no fire in the kitchen, but found smoke coming from the roof, where contractors had been using a torch to apply building materials.

Upon investigation, firefighters learned that filters in the ventilation system had caught on fire while the roofers worked. They then used dry chemical extinguishers to put out the flames, and set the filters aside.

“But it started smoldering again,” said Webb. “The ventilation system drew smoke and dry chemicals into the restaurant.” … Continue reading »

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Injured pedestrian taken to hospital after Berkeley crash

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A man with moderate injuries was taken by ambulance to Highland Hospital on Sunday evening after being struck by a driver in South Berkeley.

Police and paramedics were called to the scene at about 6 p.m. for a reported traffic collision between a vehicle and a pedestrian, said Officer Byron White, a Berkeley Police spokesman.

White said the man had been listening to music through headphones while running westbound across Sacramento Street at Woolsey Street when the accident took place. … Continue reading »

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A tragic death in Berkeley spurs funds for traffic beacons

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Nine months after a 98-year-old pedestrian was killed by a motorist while crossing Sacramento Street in a crosswalk in the middle of the day, the city is taking steps to install a flashing beacon pedestrian alert at the intersection where the accident occurred.

Joseph Luft, a Berkeley resident, psychologist and former San Francisco State University professor, was out for one of his regular strolls around lunchtime April 5 when he was hit by a car while crossing Sacramento at Bancroft Way. He died that evening at the hospital.

The driver, Robert Gilchrist, was charged with felony vehicular manslaughter and is being held in Santa Rita jail, with a pre-trial hearing scheduled for Dec. 31. Gilchrist didn’t have a valid driver’s license at the time of the accident and told police he was legally blind.

In the wake of Luft’s death, a number of residents complained to city officials about safety at the Sacramento-Bancroft intersection, which is the site of an assisted living facility, and near Washington Elementary School. Cars barreling down Sacramento, a thoroughfare, often don’t see or stop for pedestrians, even when they’re in the crosswalk, residents said. … Continue reading »

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Two years after the shooting of Pamula Mullins, Berkeley police are still looking for clues to her killing

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Cathy White has never forgotten the last phone conversation she had with her younger sister, Pamula Mullins.

It was the evening of Dec. 4, 2012. The two sisters were discussing what each would make for Christmas dinner. Mullins offered to make her “messy” salad – a salad chock full of things other than lettuce – and White was gently trying to talk her out of it. Unbeknownst to Mullins, no-one in the family really liked her salad, but they were too polite to tell her that directly.

After a good laugh — the two sisters were very close — Mullins said she had to get off the phone to go to the store.

That was the last time White talked to her sister. … Continue reading »

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Crime

Breaking: Police activity in South Berkeley

Berkeley police cruisers (file), April 2013. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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Update, 12 p.m. The Berkeley Police Department has confirmed that officers responded to the 1500 block of Alcatraz Avenue shortly after 8 p.m. “on a report of a suspect threatening a woman while brandishing a gun,” said Berkeley Police Capt. Erik Upson via email.

After arriving, police learned the man might have fled into a nearby apartment. Police “contained” the apartment and several neighbors were evacuated as police tried to communicate with him.

Officers on scene ultimately determined he had left the area prior to their arrival. Upson said the the case remains under investigation.

Upson also confirmed, in response to a question from a Berkeleyside reader, that police had been dispatched to the same area earlier in the evening on a related case. … Continue reading »

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Crime

Driver charged in vehicular manslaughter of Berkeley man is ‘legally blind’

Joseph Luft. Courtesy: Luft family
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Update, Aug. 7: The Alameda County district attorney’s office has increased the vehicular manslaughter charge against Robert Gilchrist to a felony, according to court papers dated Aug. 7. See the complaint here. Authorities say Gilchrist struck and killed a 98-year-old pedestrian while driving in Berkeley in April.

Original story, Aug. 4: The driver charged with killing a 98-year-old former psychology professor on his daily walk in Berkeley in April had no license and told police he is “legally blind,” according to court papers that became available last week.

Robert Jack Gilchrist, 56, was charged by the Alameda County district attorney’s office July 31 with misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter and driving without a license, also a misdemeanor.

Vehicular manslaughter involves driving “in an unlawful manner, but without gross negligence,” according to court papers.

Authorities say Gilchrist, of Oakland, hit the 98-year-old Berkeley man as he walked in a crosswalk on Sacramento Street at Bancroft Way on April 4. … Continue reading »

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Crime

Update: Shooting sends Berkeley man to hospital

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One person in South Berkeley was sent to the hospital with a gunshot wound to the leg Sunday night, according to unconfirmed police scanner recordings.

According to scanner traffic, several callers reported the sound of numerous gunshots near Sacramento Street and Alcatraz Avenue shortly before 9:30 p.m. Sunday.

A caller told police one person, with a gunshot wound to the leg, was located at a house in the 3200 block of Sacramento, between Harmon Street and Alcatraz. … Continue reading »

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Car strikes and kills 98-year-old pedestrian in Berkeley

Joseph Luft. Courtesy: Luft family
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A 98-year-old man was struck by a car Friday afternoon while crossing the intersection of Bancroft Way and Sacramento Street. He later died of his injuries.

Berkeley police said the man was struck around 12:23 p.m.

He was conscious and talking when police arrived, but he died at the hospital around 6 p.m., according to Berkeley Police spokeswoman Officer Jennifer Coats.

The Alameda County coroner’s office identified him as Joseph Luft of Berkeley.

The driver is cooperating with police, Coats said in a press release. It does not appear that drugs or alcohol were factors in the collision, she said.

Luft, a psychologist, was the creator of the Johari Window, a technique he and Harry Ingrahm invented in 1955 to help people better understand their relationship with others. He taught at San Francisco State University for more than 20 years.

The Luft family released a statement Saturday stating that Joseph Luft was a World War II veteran, “a proud father of four and beloved local figure,” who had taken a daily walk for more than 50 years. … Continue reading »

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