[Note: BPD updated the prison sentence Tuesday. This article has been updated to reflect the new information.]
Jamell Tousant was sentenced Friday, the Berkeley Police Department said in a statement Monday. At the end of a two-week trial, an Alameda County Superior Court jury found him guilty of multiple assault and gun charges, BPD said.
The shooting that put Tousant in jail happened Aug. 15, 2015, in the 2800 block of Mabel Street just before 6:40 p.m. That evening, police said, he got out of a white vehicle and opened fire with an assault rifle at a group of four men walking on Mabel. He struck one of them in the leg. Tousant believed the group on Mabel was responsible for the fatal shooting of his son in Oakland several months earlier, authorities have said.
Officers who responded that day found a 35-year-old man who had been injured, as well as gunfire damage to two houses and at least one vehicle. Police found 7.62- and .45-caliber casings at the scene. The victim ultimately survived the shooting.
“A witness saw the suspect vehicle fleeing the scene and relayed the license plate to officers. Although not found that day, investigators were able to alert other local law enforcement agencies about the wanted vehicle,” police said in Monday’s statement. About two weeks later, Aug. 31, 2015, Oakland police spotted the vehicle in East Oakland. Tousant was behind the wheel. Inside the vehicle, police found a different gun — it was loaded but was unrelated to the Berkeley shooting — as well as a 7.62-caliber casing that was the same brand as the casings from Berkeley.
The Alameda County sheriff’s office crime lab compared the bullet casing from Tousant’s vehicle to casings from the Berkeley shooting and said they were all fired from the same assault rifle. Police said evidence also linked Tousant to a shooting in Oakland five days after the Berkeley shooting. There were 7.62- caliber casings found at that scene as well. BPD said officers found Tousant’s cellphone in a rental car abandoned at that scene.
Tousant told BPD investigators he had not been in Berkeley since April or May. His 21-year-old son, also named Jamell, had recently been killed in a drive-by shooting in East Oakland. The elder Tousant said the last time he was in Berkeley was for his son’s funeral.
But, according to court papers, Tousant’s cellphone had pinged off a cell tower near Oregon and Mabel on Aug. 15 around the time of the Berkeley shooting. On his phone, police found a text message he had sent to his wife after the shooting that read, “I’m hot did something trying to see if the police come over,” according to court documents. Also on the phone, police said, was an image from the Berkeleyside article describing the Aug. 15 shooting.
After searching Tousant’s garage in Alameda in early September, Berkeley investigators said they found a high-capacity drum-style magazine often used with an assault rifle. During the search, police found a box of bullets matching the gun recovered when OPD stopped Tousant at the end of August, as well as a camouflage bulletproof vest.
Police noted that Tousant is not legally allowed to own weapons or ammunition because he is a felon “with violent convictions.” According to court papers, a 2007 robbery conviction sent Tousant to prison.
In 1995, when he was 17, he was found responsible in juvenile court for two felonies: rape while acting in concert, and oral copulation by acting in concert with force. As a result, he was required to register as a sex offender, and was convicted in 2001, after an address change, for failing to update his registration information. That was a misdemeanor but it sent him to prison, according to court papers.
Tousant has been in custody since his arrest at his home in Alameda on Oct. 23, 2015.
“This arrest and conviction would not be possible without the assistance and cooperation of the Oakland Police Department, the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office, and the continued hard work and dedication of members of the Berkeley Police Department,” police said in Monday’s statement.
Read more about shootings in Berkeley in past Berkeleyside coverage.