Berkeley Police station. Photo: Emilie Raguso
Berkeley Police station. Photo: Emilie Raguso

A felon who violently attacked another man outside the Berkeley Police Department, and threatened to kill him if he was Jewish, has been charged with two felonies by the Alameda County district attorney’s office, authorities report.

The attack happened at 3:10 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 18, at 2100 Martin Luther King Jr. Way.

According to court papers, 50-year-old William Sermon tried to choke the victim with both hands “and attempted to gouge the victim’s eyes out with his thumbs.”

Police said Sermon also threatened to kill the victim several times, “and stated that if the victim was at least twenty five percent Jewish he would kill him.”

The victim was cut above his right eye during the assault. He was still able to identify Sermon as his attacker after police tracked Sermon down the next day.

Police found Sermon to have three active warrants out of San Francisco. He has no listed home address, according to court documents.

After officers detained Sermon, at Shattuck Avenue and Allston Way, police said he made several statements about hurting himself. He was taken for a psychiatric evaluation after his arrest Aug. 19 at about 5:45 p.m.

He has since been taken to Santa Rita Jail, and is being held with a bail of $140,000.

Sermon is scheduled for his preliminary hearing, where a judge will determine whether the case will advance to trial, next Tuesday, Sept. 6. He is set to appear in court Tuesday, Sept. 1, for a pretrial hearing, according to online records from the Alameda County sheriff’s office.

Sermon has been charged with two felonies: criminal threats and attempted aggravated mayhem. If convicted, he could be sent to prison due to provisions that characterize those felonies as violent. He was charged Tuesday, Aug. 23.

Sermon has only one prior conviction listed in charging papers, in April 1989 for grand theft in Fresno County. He was sent to prison.

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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...