Police are asking for help to learn more about this Mercedes, and this man and woman. Photos: OPD
Police are asking for help to learn more about this Mercedes, and this man and woman. Photos: OPD

A Berkeley musician was fatally injured by a stray bullet over the weekend, and police are asking for help to track down his killer.

There are also rewards of $20,000 from CrimeStoppers and $5,000 from Pet Food Express for tips that help solve the crime and lead to successful prosecution of the case.

Emiliano “Emilio” Nevarez, a 26-year-old Berkeley man, had just finished playing a show with his band on Sunday, April 5, at 1 a.m. when a stray bullet struck him in Oakland in the 400 block of 14th Street, near Broadway, as he prepared to pack music equipment into a van.

Thursday, the Oakland Police Department released several photographs, obtained from video surveillance footage, of individuals and a vehicle they believe are associated with the shooting. There are two people in the photographs, a man and woman police say were with the shooter the night of the incident, as well as an early 2000s-model Mercedes Benz four-door silver sedan S-series. 

A man authorities say was with an alleged shooter whose bullet killed an innocent bystander. Photo: OPD
A man authorities say was with the shooter whose bullet killed an innocent bystander early Sunday. Photo: OPD

Investigators said they would like to hear from anyone who many have seen the shooting, has information about the people in the photographs, saw the shooter leave the scene, or knows more about the Mercedes.

The Oakland Police Department promotes the Nixle system as a way to communicate anonymously with police in three ways: by texting “TIP OAKLANDPD” to 888-777 from a cellphone, followed by the tip; calling the toll-free tip line at 855-TIPS-247 (855-847-7247); or submitting a tip online.

The CrimeStoppers system can receive anonymous tips by phone, at 510-777-8572, and the Oakland Police Department’s homicide section can be reached at 510-238-3821.

Emilio Nevarez. Photo: Emilio Nevarez/Facebook
Emilio Nevarez. Photo: Emilio Nevarez/Facebook

One Florida woman has called on Facebook for a porch lighting in memory of Nevarez to take place “Anywhere Everywhere” on Saturday at 7 p.m. PST: “A brother, son, cousin, nephew and friend who was taken from us too soon, help in keeping his memory alive by participating in this lighting.”

Nevarez lived in Berkeley at the time of his death. According to media reports, he graduated from Antioch High School and went on to get his bachelor’s from Ex’pression College in Emeryville, then worked as an audio engineer.

Police have not said much about how the shooting took place, but other publications have said there was some kind of confrontation between a pedestrian and motorcyclist down the street that sparked the violence.

Nevarez had been performing with his punk rock band, The Lucky Eejits, and three other bands at Oakland’s Golden Bull bar and music venue that night. His two surviving bandmates, Casey Fitzpatrick and Tyler Salinas, posted a statement on Facebook about Nevarez’s death.

“Emilio was doing what we always do after our shows and prepping our gear to load back in the van. Just minutes before the tragedy Tyler and myself were walking to get the van to bring up front to load. Before we could even pull It up our brother was gone. We have been in a dark world of sadness and pure confusion as to why this happened to our beloved, beautiful and talented friend,” they wrote. 

A second person also was shot, police said, but those injuries — to the arm — did not appear to be life-threatening, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

The Golden Bull has since posted a statement online about the shooting, calling for a peaceful response: “As much as businesses like ours are trying to help turn things around in downtown Oakland, unfortunately there are still bad elements that remain in the neighborhood. We bow our heads in sincere mourning of this terrible loss. We ask the community to do the same. There is a memorial of photos, candles and flowers outside of our establishment. Please feel free to share your thoughts, prayers, grief and memories.”

Emilio Nevarez. Photo: Emilio Nevarez/Facebook
Emilio Nevarez. Photo: Emilio Nevarez/Facebook

Nevarez’s family has set up a memorial fund (Dow Credit Union account #2923997700). It’s payable by check to Dow Credit Union, P.O. Box 2059, 4041 Lone Tree Way, Suite 100, Antioch, CA 94531. According to The Golden Bull and The Lucky Eejits, money contributed to that fund will help pay for Nevarez’s memorial. Anything that remains will go to CrimeStoppers, which is coordinating the reward for crime tips in the case.

Oakland-based Pet Food Express co-owners Mark Witriol and Michael Levy also put up $5,000 in reward money for information leading to an arrest. Witriol told police, according to a statement released Thursday, “Every company in Oakland has to realize that we can’t let this violence happen here, and we have to work together with the Police Department to make a difference.”

Individuals or businesses that want to donate to that effort can reach Mike Murray of Pet Food Express at 925-705-5762.

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Emilie Raguso (former senior editor, news) joined Berkeleyside in 2012 and covered politics, public safety and development until her departure in 2022. In 2017, Emilie was named Journalist of the Year...