Police arrested a transient Berkeley woman in connection with arson Wednesday night. Photo: Paul Kealoha-Blake
Police arrested a transient Berkeley woman in connection with arson Wednesday night. Photo: Paul Kealoha-Blake

A transient Berkeley woman who’s had repeated run-ins with police in the past is back in custody Thursday after authorities say she set at least one dumpster on fire by the library Wednesday night.

Dawn Carraway, 26, was arrested just before midnight on suspicion of arson. It’s not the first time she’s been arrested in Berkeley in connection with that crime.

Berkeley Police spokesman Sgt. Andrew Frankel said reports of dumpster fires began coming into the department at 11:11 p.m. The first two reports involved dumpsters at 2424 Haste St., then Dwight Way and Dana Street.

Berkeley firefighters responded to extinguish the fires.

Just after 11:30 p.m., Frankel said an officer was ‘flagged down’ about a third fire in a concrete trash receptacle at the Central Library at 2090 Kittredge.

“After further investigation, the woman who flagged officers down about the third fire was arrested for setting that fire in front of the library,” Frankel said. “Additional investigation will be necessary to determine if she also set the first two fires.”

Carraway is being held at Santa Rita Jail with a bail of $50,000. She is scheduled for arraignment Friday at the Wiley Manuel Courthouse in downtown Oakland.

Frankel said a booking photograph was not available because “there is still investigative work that needs to occur.”

According to the California Penal Code, “Arson of property is a felony punishable by imprisonment in the state prison for 16 months, two, or three years.”

Earlier this month, posts on Carraway’s Facebook indicate she was struggling: “I swear to god I want to beat someone to death! I really hate my … life right now!”

She also writes that she has struggled with depression since at least high school, and was arrested for the first time when she was 17 in connection with stabbing someone.

She also shared her views on police, and said she had too often been taken to jail when she really needed mental health assistance.

She wrote, “The funny thing about it is, there’s usually only one officer for a certain amount of area in a city, so you can usually get away with quite a bit before you actually run into one.”

She continued: “I’m a felon just because I punched an old lady. I’m a … mental patient! I mean seriously, who goes down the street and says ‘gee, I just love punching old ladies! POW!’ Now my life is [messed] up housing wise and other ways because of this. Granted, some people deserve to have the cops called on them, but some stuff people need to just let go because it’s not that serious.”

Last year, Carraway was arrested in Berkeley in March after “launching an unprovoked assault” on a man inside the downtown Berkeley BART station, according to the BART Police Department. She also reportedly assaulted officers at the scene.

According to the BART Police, in that incident on March 16, Carraway “jumped on the back of a male subject and battered him.” Authorities said she was taken for a psychiatric evaluation after her arrest. Officers had to use force to restrain her to take her into custody, according to police.

One month later, on April 15, police say Carraway lit two toilet paper rolls on fire at Berkeley’s City Hall while a man in a wheelchair was using the restroom. The Alameda County district attorney’s office charged her with a misdemeanor.

In that case, police said Carraway had entered a women’s bathroom at City Hall, 2180 Milvia St., while another person was using the restroom. She lit the toilet paper rolls on fire and later told police she did it because “after she lights the paper on fire, it smells like honey.”

Carraway is on probation through Oct. 28, 2017, for illegal conduct at a burning building, and animal cruelty, according to police.

Woman arrested after punching passer-by in the face (08.12.15)
Berkeleyside blotter: Crime in Berkeley, April 9-15 (04.24.15)
Woman charged after setting toilet paper rolls on fire (04.22.15)
Berkeleyside blotter: Crime in Berkeley, March 12-18 (03.27.15)

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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...