Crime roundup: Sexual battery at youth shelter, standoff near freeway, more

Berkeleyside regularly reports on notable Berkeley crimes, which include incidents that involve violence or weapons, or that readers have asked about. In 2018, the Berkeley Police Department handled about 73,000 incidents and made more than 2,000 arrests. Every month, there are 200-300 Part 1 crimes in Berkeley. Most Part 1 crimes, which are the categories tracked by the FBI, are serious felonies. Arrestees are innocent until proven guilty.

SEXUAL BATTERY An 18-year-old man who had been staying at the YEAH! youth shelter at 1744 University Ave. has been arrested on suspicion of felony kidnapping, false imprisonment and sexual battery, according to police and court records. BPD responded to YEAH! early Monday morning “after learning that a woman had been sexually assaulted by another person staying in the shelter,” according to Officer Byron White, BPD spokesman, in response to a Berkeleyside inquiry: “After speaking with the victim, officers learned that the suspect had grabbed and/or touched the victim in a sexual manner on three separate occasions.” Police found the suspect, Antonio Missail, inside the shelter and arrested him. He remains in custody at Santa Rita Jail in Dublin and is being held on $120,000 bail, according to court records online. He is scheduled for arraignment Wednesday at the Wiley Manuel Courthouse in Oakland. BPD said a booking photograph could not be released due to the ongoing investigation.

BARRICADED SUBJECT Police arrested a 59-year-old Berkeley man who barricaded himself inside his Dwight Way home early Monday morning after breaking into his neighbor’s apartment, according to BPD. Police responded shortly before 4 a.m. to the 1400 block of Dwight Way (near Acton Street) for a report that a woman was yelling inside her home. When officers got there, said White, the woman said she had heard noises in her bathroom. When she went to investigate, she saw a man reaching through her window. He had cut the screen, according to BPD, and was pulling her interior curtains off of her curtain rod, White said. The woman yelled at the man — identified as Tony Lorenzo Walker — and he walked back to his apartment. Officers went to Walker’s place but he refused to open his door, White said: “After several attempts, it became apparent that the suspect was not going to voluntarily leave his apartment or allow officers entry.” BPD got a warrant to arrest Walker, who ultimately came outside voluntarily at 6:30 a.m. and was taken into custody. Walker, who is on probation, was arrested on suspicion of burglary, resisting arrest and the alteration of an imitation firearm, according to court records online. He remains in custody on $30,000 bail at Santa Rita Jail in Dublin. Walker is scheduled to enter a plea Wednesday at the East County Hall of Justice in Dublin.

FREEWAY STANDOFF A 33-year-old man who threatened a gas station clerk with a hammer, then smashed the window of a woman with a 6-year-old child in her car has been charged with felony robbery, child abuse, carrying a concealed dirk or dagger and other crimes after police found him holding a sword on the pedestrian overpass on University Avenue on Saturday, according to BPD. At 4:05 p.m., police responded to the Chevron gas station at 833 University (near Sixth Street) after the man, identified as Joshua Berger, reportedly demanded cigarettes from the clerk there. According to White, Berger threatened to hit the clerk in the head with a hammer, then went outside and smashed the woman’s window. Berger fled but officers found him nearby on the Interstate 80 pedestrian overpass. BPD said Berger threw his hammer down onto the freeway and held a sword as he refused police commands to surrender. Police used less-lethal projectiles to take Berger into custody. They also found him in possession of a second sword, described as a Japanese katana sword, when they detained him, White said. Berger has also been charged with resisting arrest, a felony, and misdemeanor vandalism, according to court records online. He remains in custody at Santa Rita Jail with a bail of $250,000. Berger, who has no permanent address, is scheduled to enter a plea June 26.


BIKER WITH GUN An Oakland man who fell off his motorcycle in West Berkeley when police tried to stop him because he wore no helmet has been charged with carrying a loaded gun and other crimes, according to court papers and police. Moises Ayala-Arias was riding his motorcycle Thursday at 5 p.m. when a BPD officer on patrol saw him near the Tom Bates Regional Sports Complex, at 400-408 Gilman St., said Lt. Kevin Reece. BPD has stepped up patrols in the area because of auto burglary activity near the popular sports field. When the officer got behind the motorcyclist, the man tried to flee but fell off the bike, Reece said. The officer helped the man up and was talking with him, with the help of a translation app, when the officer noticed a gun on the ground right where the man had fallen from the bike. Reece said the man admitted that the gun, which was loaded and unregistered, was his. Ayala-Arias was charged with carrying a concealed gun and carrying a loaded, unregistered gun — both felonies — as well as the misdemeanor crime of being an unlicensed driver, according to court records online. He was released on his own recognizance and is scheduled to enter a plea June 27.

GUN CHARGES A felon is facing several new gun-related charges after police say he tried to kidnap a woman in Berkeley earlier this month and struck a cyclist with his Honda, according to court papers. On June 9, police say Michael Flowers, 37, confronted a woman he knew as she walked at Gilman and Ninth streets with an acquaintance on a bike at about 7:10 a.m. Flowers drove onto the sidewalk, police said, jumped out of his vehicle and grabbed the woman. He threw her into his back seat as she resisted and screamed that she wouldn’t “go back” with him. As Flowers drove off, police wrote in court documents, he followed the cyclist and struck him from behind. The man on the bike received minor injuries to the leg as a result, police wrote.

Further investigation led to Flowers’ arrest in Alameda by the Berkeley Police Department on June 10 after police found a handgun in his backpack during a search, according to court papers. The Alameda County district attorney’s office charged Flowers with three gun-related felonies and misdemeanor assault with a deadly weapon, according to court papers. He has convictions for grand theft, cocaine possession and vandalism, according to charging documents. Flowers, who is listed as transient, is being held on $205,000 at Santa Rita Jail in Dublin. His next court date was not available as of publication time.

UNATTENDED DEATH First responders found a body Sunday afternoon after being called to the wooded area west of UC Berkeley’s Edwards track for a welfare check, according to the University of California Police Department. Officers were called to the scene, near Bancroft Way and Fulton Street, at 1:35 p.m. because the man was unresponsive. Sgt. Nicolas Hernandez, UCPD spokesman, said the Berkeley Fire Department pronounced the man dead at the scene. The cause of death is under investigation by the Alameda County coroner’s office, Hernandez said. The coroner’s office said the man’s name could not be released Tuesday because next of kin has not been notified. Update, June 20: The man who died has been identified as 63-year-old Thomas Francis Chockla. He had no permanent address. The cause of death remains under investigation, according to the coroner’s office.

CROWBAR ATTACK A Berkeley man was arrested Thursday on suspicion of assault on a disabled adult after he struck another man with a crowbar, according to BPD. Thursday just after 10:50 p.m., police responded to the 1500 block of Oregon Street (near Sacramento Street) on a report that two neighbors were fighting, said BPD spokesman White. When officers got there, they recognized the men from calls earlier that evening. The men had declined police assistance at that time. But, during the new incident, police say Dennis Ellery Peazant, 65, attacked his 41-year-old neighbor with a crowbar “leaving a cut/raised lump” on the man’s face. Peazant also was arrested on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon and assault causing bodily injury, which are both felonies. The neighbor was taken to a hospital for injuries to his face, White said. Peazant was held on $95,000 bail and was scheduled for arraignment Tuesday, according to court records online.

EARLY-MORNING ATTACK A 66-year-old Berkeley woman was attacked in her home early Sunday morning by a woman who had entered through an unlocked door. According to BPD, the resident heard noises in her home, in the 1800 block of Channing Way (near Grant Street), and found a woman inside who refused to leave. When the resident tried to move the woman outside, the interloper struck her in the face, causing swelling, said BPD. Police arrived and arrested Andrea Carter, who has no permanent address, on suspicion of felony elder abuse and burglary. She is being held at Santa Rita Jail on $100,000 bail and is set for arraignment Wednesday at the Wiley Manuel Courthouse in Oakland.

MAN WITH KNIFE A 49-year-old man who brandished a knife and yelled at a passer-by on the UC Berkeley campus last week has already taken a plea and been sentenced to probation in the case, according to court records and police. According to UCPD, a man flagged down an officer Wednesday just before 7:30 a.m. at the West Circle (east of Crescent Lawn). The man told police about the person with the knife who had yelled at him. Police found the armed man, identified as Bradley Landau, nearby at Mulford Hall. UCPD said Landau “kept reaching towards his back pocket” as officers approached him. When they detained him, police found what they described as “a folding knife that had its blade locked open permanently with some material.” Landau entered a no contest plea Monday and was sentenced to three years of probation, according to court records online. He is no longer in custody. UCPD has not released a booking photograph.

LESS-LETHAL PROJECTILES A reader asked Berkeleyside to find out about significant police activity May 29 in West Berkeley. About 7:45 a.m. that day, BPD responded to a domestic disturbance in the 2400 block of Curtis Street, near Channing Way. When officers arrived, they saw a man “holding onto a woman while he held a knife to his own throat. The woman was able to free herself from the man and officers were able to use less-lethal projectiles to get the man to drop the knife,” White said. Per BPD policy, the 23-year-old Hayward man was taken to a local hospital for medical evaluation. He was arrested on suspicion of false imprisonment, burglary and domestic violence battery, according to BPD. Charges do not appear to have been filed yet in the case and the man is not in Alameda County jail.

DOORDASH DRIVER ARRESTED WITH COCAINE FOR SALE A 24-year-old Berkeley man was arrested with more than 6 grams of crack cocaine, a digital scale and several hundred dollars in cash after police stopped him Sunday night in connection with a traffic violation, according to BPD. Police stopped Leon Quarles at Ninth Street and Ashby Avenue, said White. During a search, they found the cocaine in baggies, along with the other items, said BPD. Officers arrested Quarles, a DoorDash driver, on suspicion of possession for sale of cocaine and transportation or sales of a controlled substance, according to jail records online. He remains in custody at Santa Rita Jail, with a bail of $40,000, and is scheduled for arraignment Wednesday at the Wiley Manuel Courthouse, according to court records.

LAPTOP THEFT A 32-year-old Berkeley woman was working on her laptop inside Philz Coffee, at 1313 Ninth St. (at Gilman), when a man ran inside and snatched her computer Saturday at 3 p.m., said BPD. The man, described as black, in his 20s and about 5 feet 8 inches tall with a medium build, ran to a beige sedan waiting for him on Ninth then left the scene.

CRIME STATS THROUGH SUNDAY In the past four weeks, there have been 26 violent Part 1 crimes reported in Berkeley: 17 robberies, five rapes and four aggravated assaults. There have been 219 violent Part 1 crimes reported in 2019.

On the property crime side, there have been 236 reported in the past four weeks: 161 thefts, 40 auto thefts, 35 burglaries and no arson reports. For the calendar year, there have been 1,470 Part 1 property crimes reported.

Of the burglaries, 25 were home burglaries and 10 were commercial. Of the theft reports, 23 were grand theft, 63 were petty thefts and 75 were auto burglaries, according to BPD data.