Berkeley police detectives have arrested a local man in connection with the fatal shooting of a Cal student who was walking on Dwight Way in West Berkeley in June.
Sixty-year-old Tony Lorenzo Walker lives on Dwight near Acton Street, not far from where the student was shot June 15 on one of his regular nighttime strolls.
Nineteen-year-old Seth Smith was walking on Dwight near Valley Street, which runs just parallel to Acton, when a stranger approached him at about 11:30 p.m. and shot him at close range in the back of the head, according to authorities. Police found no evidence of a robbery attempt or any other crime.
Smith, who was just shy of his 20th birthday, was entering his third and final year at UC Berkeley. His mother, Michelle Rode-Smith, has said previously that her son would have finished his studies at Cal in 2021. He was a double major in history and economics.
Berkeley police arrested Walker on Thursday at 1:20 p.m., according to Alameda County jail booking records. He was arrested on suspicion of murder.
Walker is being held without bail and is scheduled for arraignment Tuesday at the East County Hall of Justice in Dublin, according to records online.
Police have said they have referred the case to the Alameda County district attorney’s office for review and consideration of charging. More information may be available next week, BPD said.
Who is Tony Walker?
There is no evidence that Smith knew Walker before the fatal shooting.
According to his booking record, Walker works for a carpenters union and also goes by the names “Red,” Anthony Walker and Kenneth Lewis. Internet searches for Walker’s name did not lead far.
But Berkeleyside has written about Walker in the past, most recently in June 2019.
Police arrested Walker at that time on suspicion of trying to break into a neighbor’s place at Dwight and Acton. BPD said Walker tried to force his way inside the woman’s home, then barricaded himself in his own apartment when she discovered him and scared him off. Walker refused to open his door when police came to investigate, BPD said at the time, but he eventually surrendered without incident. The case was ultimately dismissed as part of a plea for a different case, but no information about that other incident was available online through Alameda County Superior Court records.
Walker was on felony probation at the time of the 2019 break-in attempt, according to police and records reviewed by Berkeleyside.
Walker was placed on probation after a felony gun arrest on Sacramento Street in South Berkeley in 2016, which Berkeleyside also reported. In that case, Walker was charged with possession of a firearm by a felon, according to court records. He was sentenced to a few months in jail and five years of felony probation.
Walker’s Alameda County criminal court records online go back to 1982, when he was charged with assault with a semiautomatic weapon and battery, both felonies, after an incident in August of that year. He was held to answer during a preliminary hearing, but the final outcome of that case was not posted among records available online.
The same year, Walker was charged with assault with a semiautomatic firearm and other violations related to an incident in October. That case was dismissed as part of a plea deal, according to online records.
Ten years later, Walker was charged with felony vehicle theft, but the case was ultimately dismissed, according to court records online.
In 2001, Walker was charged with felony assault with a deadly weapon and was ultimately convicted, according to records online. He was sentenced to prison and also placed on parole for three years. (It was unclear from available records whether Walker was actually sent to prison or placed directly on parole.)
In 2013, Walker was also placed on two years of probation in connection with a misdemeanor DUI conviction, according to Alameda County court records.
Justice for Seth
Rode-Smith, Seth Smith’s mother, has posted regularly on Twitter since his murder in June, calling for justice for Seth.
“I miss my boy’s sweet face,” she wrote last week. “No parent should lose their child to senseless violence when they send their kid to college.”
— Michelle Rode-Smith (@mrodesmi) July 16, 2020
Police announced a $50,000 reward in the case days after the homicide.
Some people have expressed frustration about the lack of updates in the case since Smith was killed. One of them created an online petition calling for UC Berkeley and police to do more.
“Please help spread the word that Seth Smith will not be forgotten – and that his killer needs to be found and brought to justice,” wrote petition organizer Kelley Scarsbrook. More than 6,000 people have signed the document.
Smith’s killing was the third homicide in Berkeley in 2020. There have been no murders since.
In January, a woman on the sidewalk was killed when a man fleeing a UCPD police officer reportedly ran over her. In March, a man was killed while driving through Berkeley after an apparent road rage incident. Murder charges have been filed in both cases.