$50,000 reward offered to help solve murder of UC Berkeley student

The city of Berkeley has announced a $50,000 reward for information leading to a conviction in the murder of 19-year-old Cal student Seth Smith on Monday night.

Seth Smith was killed Monday night in Berkeley. Photo: Courtesy of Smith family

The city of Berkeley has announced a $50,000 reward for information leading to a conviction in the murder of 19-year-old Cal student Seth Smith on Monday night.

In an announcement Thursday afternoon, the Berkeley Police Department said the reward would be available “for information leading to the arrest and conviction of all responsible suspects” in the murder case.

On Monday, a pedestrian saw Smith on the sidewalk on Dwight Way near Valley Street shortly after 11:30 p.m. and called police to ask for help. But it was too late. Smith had been shot in the head and was pronounced dead at the scene.

“There may be individuals who have information about this crime and we are asking for the public’s help,” police said in Thursday’s statement. “Even the smallest detail could be critical in solving this crime.”


Smith’s mother, Michelle Rode-Smith, told Berkeleyside on Wednesday that her son was set to turn 20 in July and was entering his third year at UC Berkeley. She described her son as brilliant and said he was slated to graduate from UC Berkeley in May 2021. He was a double major in history and economics.

Smith was walking on Dwight Way, the street where he lived, when someone shot him at close range, she said.

“How can anyone be shot in front of homes and no one saw or heard anything,” she wrote on Twitter. “I can not rest until I know why my son Seth was taken from us. He enjoyed walking. He’d always been a night owl kid. He should not have been shot in the back of the head for walking on his street.”

Many people responded to Rode-Smith’s original post on Twitter about her son’s killing. Friends of her son offered support and described him as compassionate and encouraging, talented and genuine. Multiple people referenced his passion for the theater.

“His flair for writing was exceptional and his talent shone on stage,” one person wrote. “More importantly, he was effortlessly bright and always so kind.”

“Your son was one of the most inspirational students I have ever had the pleasure of teaching,” wrote another. “His words still serve as a goal post and a guide to the students who have come after him.”

BPD asks anyone with information about Smith’s killing to call the BPD Homicide Unit at 510-981-5741 or the department’s 24-hour non-emergency line at 510-981-5900.

Emilie Raguso is Berkeleyside’s senior editor of news. Email: emilie@berkeleyside.com. Twitter: emraguso. Phone: 510-459-8325.