Woman arrested in downtown Berkeley after unprovoked tree branch attack

Tree branches used in Thursday’s attack. Photo: BPD

A woman who struck two strangers in the head with a large stick and threw a tree branch at an officer — possibly causing a concussion — was arrested Thursday in downtown Berkeley, authorities report.

The woman, 29-year-old Dawn Carraway, has been arrested repeatedly in Berkeley after other unprovoked attacks and arson incidents downtown. Thursday just after 9:30 a.m., police were called to Shattuck Avenue and Allston Way about someone knocking over garbage cans and throwing sticks at passing vehicles. Witnesses told police the woman also broke a large plate glass window at GameStop at 2200 Shattuck Ave. and hit someone with a stick.

“When two officers (both trained in Crisis Intervention) attempted to contact the suspect in front of GameStop, the suspect threw a tree branch … striking one of the officers in the head,” said Officer Byron White, BPD spokesman, in a prepared statement. “The two officers requested emergency help from other officers and were able to take the suspect into custody.”

Witnesses at the scene told police the woman had actually struck two different people in the head. One of them, a 22-year-old man, was taken to the hospital with a head injury. The other person left before officers arrived. White said it appears the attacks were “unprovoked and that the people were simply waiting at the light to cross Allston Way.” He said officers hope the person who left calls BPD to make a statement.


White said the officer who was struck in the head with the tree branch was treated at a local hospital for a possible concussion, while two other officers were treated at the scene for cuts and bruises. The branches recovered during the investigation were about 3 inches wide and roughly 2 feet long, according to photos shared by police.

A tree branch used in Thursday’s attack. Photo: BPD

Carraway, who is homeless, was arrested on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon (multiple counts), battery on a police officer, resisting arrest, vandalism and probation violation. She was taken to Santa Rita Jail.

Carraway was arrested downtown in March after authorities said she attacked a woman with “windshield wiper parts,” sending the victim to the hospital. She also shattered the window of a passing vehicle, and was screaming inside City Hall minutes before the attack, authorities said at the time.

A family member of Carraway’s told Berkeleyside in March that she is mentally ill: “Dawn needs care and attention,” the relative said.

Police arrested Carraway in 2016 after reports of a series of dumpster fires, including one in a dumpster by the library downtown. Also that year, police said Carraway pushed someone without provocation and caused that person to fall down, causing visible injuries. The person was identified as an elder or dependent adult.

An arson scene where Carraway was arrested in 2016. Photo: Paul Kealoha-Blake

In 2015, police said Carraway punched a passer-by in the head without provocation and injured an officer who tried to detain her.

She was also arrested in 2015 after “launching an unprovoked assault” on a man inside the downtown Berkeley BART station, according to the BART Police Department. She assaulted officers at that scene, too, authorities reported.


The same year, police said Carraway lit two rolls of toilet paper at Berkeley’s City Hall while a man in a wheelchair was using the restroom. In that case, police said Carraway had entered a women’s bathroom at City Hall, 2180 Milvia St., while another person was using it. She lit the toilet paper rolls on fire and later told police she did it because “after she lights the paper on fire, it smells like honey.”

As reported previously on Berkeleyside, Carraway has written on Facebook that she has too often been taken to jail when she really needs mental help. She has shared her views on police, writing, “The funny thing about it is, there’s usually only one officer for a certain amount of area in a city, so you can usually get away with quite a bit before you actually run into one.”

She also wrote on Facebook — as Berkeleyside reported in 2016 — to express frustration about her run-ins with the law: “I’m a felon just because I punched an old lady. I’m a … mental patient! I mean seriously, who goes down the street and says ‘gee, I just love punching old ladies! POW!’ Now my life is [messed] up housing wise and other ways because of this. Granted, some people deserve to have the cops called on them, but some stuff people need to just let go because it’s not that serious.”

Note: This story was updated after publication to include a link to Carraway’s Facebook page.