Image: Google Maps
Image: Google Maps

Berkeley had its first homicide of the year early Friday after a man in his 20s was shot and critically injured near San Pablo Park.

Police called to southwest Berkeley just before midnight following reports of possible gunfire found a young man down in the street who was breathing but unresponsive.

Berkeley Police Sgt. Andrew Frankel said shortly before 4:30 a.m. that the man was later pronounced dead at the hospital.

“We don’t believe that there is an immediate threat to the community as the shooting does not appear to have been random,” he said. “The suspects are still at large. Homicide detectives are on scene and working the investigation.”

Frankel confirmed that dispatchers got numerous calls just before midnight Friday about loud reports — possible gunfire — near Mabel and Burnett streets. Several callers reported hearing what sounded like three gunshots. The location is south of San Pablo Park and north of Ashby Avenue. It’s one block east of San Pablo Avenue.

One woman also called police to say her brother had stepped out of their home in the 2900 block of Mabel and had not come back inside, according to unconfirmed scanner traffic reviewed by Berkeleyside.

Officers who responded to the scene found a 22-year-old man down in the street at Burnett and Mabel. Initially it was unclear whether he had been hit by gunfire.

Once he assessed the victim, an officer quickly called for an emergency response from the Berkeley Fire Department. The man was breathing but unconscious, the officer told dispatchers, according to scanner recordings.

Officers found shell casings in the street on Burnett.

The man was taken to Highland Hospital by paramedics, and police officers went to the hospital as well. The victim’s name has not been released.

Frankel said police were not releasing suspect information at this time.

A neighbor who heard gunfire told Berkeleyside she heard the shots, then the sound of sirens a short time later.

“I didn’t hear any car take off or anything after the gunshots just silence and by the time I looked again there [were] several police cars outside and they took someone … into an ambulance,” she said.

A man who lives in the area, looking for information from Berkeleyside about what might have taken place, described “more siren sounds tonight than most nights.”

Police are asking for the community’s help to solve the case. They ask anyone with information to call 510-981-5741 to make a report.

Gunfire-related incidents in Berkeley in 2016. Image: Google Maps
Gunfire-related incidents in Berkeley in 2016. Image: Google Maps

It’s not the first time this year authorities have been called to deal with gun-related incidents in southwest Berkeley near San Pablo Park.

In late August, police found shell casings near Oregon and Acton streets on the east side of the park after gunfire was reported. The last reported shooting in Berkeley with a victim took place at the park in May. Police said, year to date at that time, there had been a total of 12 incidents in Berkeley involving gunfire, though not all resulted in victims or property damage.

Prior to Friday, there had been no homicides in Berkeley in 2016. Three graduates of Berkeley High School, however, were fatally shot in Oakland in the past two weeks.

Last year, Berkeley had one homicide: 24-year-old Christian Sheppard. That killing took place in the 1600 block of Russell Street, less than half a mile from Thursday night’s shooting. Anthony Durant was arrested and charged in that case, and he remains in custody. A judge has ordered him to face trial, but no date has yet been set.

Have a question about a local public safety incident? Write to Photographs and videos are always appreciated. Read more about shootings in Berkeley. This story was updated after publication, at about 4:30 a.m., to reflect new information released by BPD.

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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...