Phone records, photographs and a Honda helped police zero in on a third suspect in back-to-back gang-related shootings in South Berkeley in April, court documents reveal.
Malik Harrison of Berkeley, 20, was arrested Monday in connection with the case and is set to appear in court Friday to face four felony charges, according to court papers. Harrison has been charged with shooting at an inhabited dwelling, assault with a semiautomatic firearm and carrying a concealed, loaded firearm. Authorities said, in court papers, that he and the two other men charged in the case are part of a “subset” of West Berkeley’s Waterfront gang called “Babas” that has been in conflict with the South Berkeley “Ls” gang in recent years. Authorities have also linked Harrison to two other gang-related shootings in April, including one on Interstate 580, police wrote.
On April 12, shortly before 10 p.m., a man in the 2900 block of Mabel Street was injured by flying shards of glass when “numerous rounds” were fired into a home there. Less than 10 minutes earlier, an apartment complex a half-mile away at 1615 Russell St., Rosewood Manor, had been peppered with gunfire, damaging the property. Casings littered the block when police responded to investigate. The motive for both shootings, believed to have been carried out by the same group, appears to have been gang-related, police have said.
Berkeley police initially identified a Honda registered to Harrison from surveillance video from the April 12 shootings. It was one of numerous vehicles that fled the scene after a group of people with guns opened fire on rival gang associates that night, according to court papers. Less than a week later, as Oakland police were chasing the Honda into San Francisco in connection with a shooting in Oakland on April 13, OPD recovered a Glock firearm thrown out of the Honda. Ballistics tests ultimately linked the gun to the I-580 freeway shooting in Richmond on April 14, according to police.
The freeway shooting was classified as gang-related and, according to court papers, “at least two other Babas gang members have been arrested and linked to the CHP shooting.” The Oakland shooting was also listed as gang-related, according to police, “as the victim was a known North Side Oakland gang member.”
BPD has been closing in on Harrison since at least August, when investigators obtained a warrant for his arrest. OPD arrested Harrison on that warrant in late October. BPD detectives interviewed Harrison the day after his arrest. He invoked his right to an attorney immediately but “never denied being one of the shooters” in the April incidents, police wrote.
Phone records, from a phone Harrison had in April, put him in Berkeley before and during the April 12 shootings, according to police. Detectives wrote that they also found photographs of Harrison with the two other defendants in the case: “The photos helped Detectives link Malik to the shooting and further implicate David Russell and Grayson Gordon who have already been charged with these shootings. Detectives located several photos of Harrison, Gordon, and Russell holding pistols with other Babas gang members.”
Berkeleyside previously reported the arrests of Gordon and Russell. They remain in custody and are set to appear in court Jan. 22 for a pretrial hearing. Gordon is being held on $465,000 bail and Russell on $1.01 million bail. According to court papers, Russell told police he threw a Glock 9mm off the Bay Bridge after Gordon was arrested in May. Authorities believe it was likely the one used in the April shootings.
Harrison, whose bail was not listed, has also been charged with felony evasion in connection with the OPD pursuit in April. He has no prior adult convictions listed in court records online.
In their early days, Babas gang members were committing crimes such as prowling, trespassing and burglary, but have since moved on to more serious crimes like robbery and assaults, a now-retired BPD sergeant said last year. Attempted murder and weapons violations have also been among their alleged violations, authorities say. There may be 20 members in the gang, who now range in age from their late teens to their early 20s, according to BPD.
There have been nearly two dozen shootings in Berkeley in 2018. They left 14 people with gun-related injuries.
Read more about the rivalry behind the April shootings in Berkeley in prior Berkeleyside reporting.