Man found dead outside in Berkeley

A man’s body was found at Hearst and Shattuck avenues Sunday morning. Photo: Heidi Sachs

Update, Jan. 26, 1:30 p.m. Authorities have identified the man who died as 40-year-old Daniel Messer of Texas. Cause of death has not been released because certain tests are still pending, the coroner’s office said.

Original story, Jan. 22, 3:51 p.m. A man who has not been identified was found dead outside near North Berkeley’s popular Gourmet Ghetto neighborhood Sunday morning, authorities report.

Berkeley Police Lt. Andrew Rateaver said a man was found dead, but that no further details about him could be released pending the ongoing coroner’s case.

Rateaver said authorities were called at 9 a.m. to offer medical aid to someone at 2044 Hearst Ave. Police and firefighters responded. But when they got there, they found that the person who reportedly needed help had already died.


The investigation is going, Rateaver said.

The coroner’s office said Sunday afternoon that the man has not been identified so no further information was available.

It may, however, be the latest in a series of troubling deaths outside of people sleeping on Berkeley streets.

Last weekend, the body of a 55-year-old woman was found in the yard of a home on Martin Luther King Jr. Way.

Homeless activist Mike Zint said Tuesday at a vigil for her that the woman was the ninth homeless person who had died outside in the East Bay in the past few months. He said four were in Oakland, and several others were from Berkeley. Zint said their long years in the elements had contributed to their deaths.


One of those individuals was Roberto Benitas, who died in September in the doorway of the old U-Haul business on San Pablo Avenue and Addison Street.

In mid-December, a man may have died after having a medical issue outside the McDonald’s at 1998 Shattuck Ave. (The coroner’s office had no information on the man identified by the community as the victim when Berkeleyside called to check in December. The Berkeley Fire Department said a person was transported by ambulance from that location but could provide no further information due to privacy laws.)

That same week, according to reports from the First They Came For The Homeless activist group, other Berkeley fatalities included a man known as “Caveman” who died after being in the hospital for several weeks, and “a homeless woman new to housing.”

In the last month or so, Berkeley has doubled the number of nighttime shelter beds it offers in addition to its regular shelter beds. The newest nighttime shelter, at 1231 Second St., can accommodate dogs and large amounts of gear. Berkeley even expanded hours for warming centers, places people can stay during the day, but the extra daytime hours have not been well-used and are being phased out, according to a staff report.

[Correction: An earlier version of this story included the name of a man who may have died in December. It was removed because of conflicting reports online. Further information appears in the comments below. Language about the city’s shelter program and offerings was clarified Monday.]