A pregnant woman was robbed at gunpoint yesterday morning a block east of Ashby BART station in Berkeley. Police believe the suspects who mugged her may have committed several similar robberies in the area in quick succession that morning. And they come in the wake of a rash of robberies and car jackings over the past two weeks in this South Berkeley-North Oakland border area.
On Monday morning, Jen Boynton was walking from her home in Oakland to the Ashby BART station in South Berkeley, as she does most days to catch the train to work.
Boynton, who is seven months’ pregnant, was walking west on Woolsey Street and was crossing Tremont Street at about 9:30 a.m. when she noticed a car parked south of the intersection. A man got out of the car, crossed the intersection, and approached her. He pulled out a “serious-looking” gun and demanded she give him her backpack.
Boynton responded: “Why? I’m pregnant.” The man repeated his demand and she gave him her bag. He walked back across the intersection and got into the driver’s seat of a black Toyota Venza.
“I started screaming at the top of my lungs,” said Boynton (who concedes using the pregnancy card didn’t work, although it has done so for her in less dangerous situations in the past). Onlookers were already dialing 911. The residential area, which borders a BART parking lot and the Ed Roberts campus, was busy and several people witnessed the robbery.
Boynton said she got a good look at the mugger and was able to get the license plate number of the car he was driving.
The robbery is one of several that happened yesterday morning in the immediate area that are being investigated by authorities. Oakland Police say they appear to involve the same suspects using a car stolen in a car jacking.
In an alert issued to solicit help from the community, OPD said they responded to several robberies in the area of 66th and Raymond, the 600 block of 63rd St., and the 600 block of 66th St. on Monday morning.
The vehicle used by the robbery suspects was a black 2009 Toyota Venza LL (license plate 6CDC832), that was stolen in a car jacking on Sunday Dec. 8, OPD said.
The suspects are described as: a black male, late teens, 5’10”-6′, thin, medium complexion, black hoodie, baggy clothing; armed with gun; and a black male who was driving the car.
Boynton’s backpack contained her wallet, a laptop computer, and a Kindle. It would have included her phone but she had inadvertently left it on her charger at home.
In addition to this series of robberies, there were three robberies, one conducted with a firearm, in the neighborhood last week on Wednesday, Dec. 4, according to Crimemapping data. At 9:30 p.m. a robbery occurred at Prince and Wheeler streets. At 9:38 p.m there was a robbery at the intersection of Prince and Fulton; and the robbery with a firearm took place at 10:15 p.m near the intersection of Telegraph and 66th.
There was also a shooting at Ashby Flea Market on Sunday Dec. 1 when a volley of bullets led to a 21-year-old Berkeley man being shot and injured and Ashby BART being shut down for the evening.
A friend of Boynton’s had in fact alerted her via email of that earlier rash of robberies close to her home, as well as several burglaries, via email, and she said she was on alert. But, she said, this particular intersection is both “well populated” and “well lit,” and the incident was totally unexpected.
“There’s even a daycare center near there,” she said. “I see mothers dropping their kids there all the time.”
Boynton has lived nearby for the past two years, and lived for four years in Berkeley before that. “It’s a neighborhood in transition,” she said. “But this is the first time anything like this has happened to me or anyone I know. I know we have a lot of robberies in this area, but a robbery of a pregnant lady with a semiautomatic handgun at 9:30 am in the middle of a well populated intersection seems particularly bold. “
If you have any information that could be useful to the police, please contact OPD at 777-3211. In addition, Nixle Tip Watch allows tipsters to send OPD a tip three ways: 1. Text TIP OAKLANDPD to 888777 from your cell phone. 2. Call the toll-free tip hotline at 855-TIPS-247 (855-847-7247). 3. Respond to OPD’s Nixle messages.
Berkeleyside has requested information from the Berkeley Police Department and will update this story when new information emerges.