Police hunt for Berkeley student after homicide, stabbing

Police are looking for a person described as armed and dangerous who authorities say is responsible for Berkeley’s first homicide of 2017.

Pablo Gomez Jr. is wanted by Berkeley police. Photo: BPD

Update, Jan. 7, 4:32 p.m. Pablo Gomez Jr. is now in custody in Southern California. The details of the arrest have not been released. According to LA County sheriff’s office records, Gomez Jr. is 22 years old, contrary to prior BPD reports. Berkeleyside broke the news.

Original story, Jan. 6, 11:46 p.m. Police are looking for a person described as armed and dangerous who authorities say is responsible for Berkeley’s first homicide of 2017.

After a seriously wounded woman flagged someone down for help just north of the UC Berkeley campus shortly before noon Friday, police ultimately located a “violent crime” scene and discovered the body of a person they say has not been identified in the 2400 block of Ashby Avenue.

No information about the victim has been released.

Police have identified the wanted person as 24-year-old Pablo Gomez Jr. of North Hollywood. According to Gomez Jr.’s Facebook page, they are a UC Berkeley student who lives in Berkeley. [A friend contacted Berkeleyside after publication to say that Gomez Jr. uses the pronoun “they.” This story has been updated.]

Gomez Jr. has been described as Hispanic, is 5 foot 6 inches tall and 110 pounds, and has brown hair and brown eyes. Police ask anyone who sees Gomez Jr. to call 911 immediately.

“A witness who saw him earlier in the day reported that he had shaved his head which may have been done in an effort to alter his appearance,” police said in a statement released late Friday night.

Police say Gomez “was developed as the primary suspect for both the homicide and the stabbing.”

Police say they responded at 11:42 a.m. to the 2600 block of Ridge Road to help a woman there who had been stabbed.

“Officers arrived minutes later and found the seriously wounded victim and the person who had called on her behalf,” according to the statement.

First responders were called to Ridge Road to help a woman who had been stabbed shortly before noon Friday. Photo: Ariel Nava
Police were still on the scene early Saturday morning in the 2400 block of Ashby Avenue after a homicide Friday. Photo: Emilie Raguso

Officers provided medical care until the Berkeley Fire Department arrived and took her to a local hospital for treatment.

“She remains in the hospital receiving treatment for her injuries but is listed in stable condition,” said BPD.

Police said their investigation led them to the 2400 block of Ashby where “It was clear that based on the evidence found at the scene, a violent crime had occurred there. It wasn’t until much later that the body of an as of yet, unidentified person was discovered.”

A Berkeley resident who passed through the area reported seeing a line of police tape across the whole parking area of a building on Ashby, with two or three BPD SUVs parked in front of the yellow tape and parking area. An officer in another BPD SUV was driving eastbound on Ashby.

Early Saturday morning, police remained on scene with the entire north side of the block between Florence and Regent streets cordoned off with caution tape. At least five yellow evidence markers could be seen along the sidewalk, and some officers walked in and out of a two-story home wearing booties and face masks. One officer began taking down much of the yellow tape at about 1:30 a.m., as a group of officers walked out of the house.

An Alameda County sheriff’s office van was also on the scene, along with a Berkeley Police Crime Scene Unit van. A white picket fence surrounded the home’s front yard, and signs saying “Not our president” and “We stand with Standing Rock” were mounted on the front window. Holiday decorations, including a wreath on the front door, white paper snowflakes, and red and green Christmas stockings, still adorned the living room.

Police were still on the scene early Saturday morning in the 2400 block of Ashby Avenue after a homicide Friday. Photo: Emilie Raguso

Police did not provide any information in their late-night statement about a young woman from Berkeley reported missing by family Friday. Her vehicle was found before noon at a location searched during the police investigation. She was last seen Friday morning.

According to several hours of unconfirmed scanner recordings reviewed by Berkeleyside, a young woman in her early 20s, who had just been stabbed, flagged down a passer-by for help near Cloyne Court, a UC Berkeley student housing co-op, just after 11:40 a.m. Friday.

Cloyne Court is at 2600 Ridge Road just north of campus.

The woman told police the person who stabbed her was still in the Northside neighborhood, and police immediately began searching multiple locations to try to find that individual.

Investigators believe this Toyota Corolla is linked to Friday’s homicide and stabbing case. The car was abandoned on the corner of Ridge Road and La Loma in Berkeley near where a woman who had been stabbed flagged down a passer-by for help. Photo: Ariel Nava
Police were still on the scene early Saturday morning in the 2400 block of Ashby Avenue after a homicide Friday. Photo: Emilie Raguso
Police were still on the scene early Saturday morning in the 2400 block of Ashby Avenue after a homicide Friday. Photo: Emilie Raguso

The woman, who lives in a UC Berkeley student co-op in the Southside neighborhood, told police her attacker is a resident of a UC Berkeley student co-op in the Northside neighborhood. Police searched both locations but did not find the person identified as the assailant, according to scanner traffic. (Update, Jan. 7, 11:35 a.m. A resident of the Northside co-op told Berkeleyside on Saturday that no one named Gomez currently lives there. Berkeleyside removed the name of that facility as a result and has asked BPD for more information. BPD said it could not share further information about the case.)

The actual location of the assault was about 2 miles south of Cloyne Court, in the 2400 block of Ashby Avenue near Florence Street, according to scanner traffic. Police searched that location as well, and recovered evidence related to the crime but did not locate the assailant. The door was wide open when police arrived.

Gomez Jr. has been involved with UC Berkeley’s Queer Alliance Resource Center, according to the group’s Facebook page, and recently helped organize a chalk protest on campus related to sexual assault, the Daily Californian reported in September.

Gomez Jr. is studying “Chicanx/Latinx Studies” according to their Facebook page, and is a senior climate action fellow at Alliance for Climate Education.

Police ask anyone with information about Gomez’s location to call the Berkeley Police Homicide Detail at 510-981-5741.

Woman missing after stabbing that sent 1 to hospital (01.06.17)
Update: Young woman stabbed; police search for suspect (01.06.16)

Have a question about a local public safety incident? Write to crime@berkeleyside.com to reach Emilie Raguso, or call 510-459-8325. Photographs and videos are always appreciated.

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This story was updated after publication to reflect Gomez Jr.’s preferred pronoun, according to a friend who contacted Berkeleyside. Photographs from the crime scene on Ashby Avenue and a description from the home there were added to this story at 2:30 a.m. Saturday. Photographs from Ridge Road, by Ariel Nava, were added at 12:40 p.m. Saturday.

Emilie Raguso is Berkeleyside’s senior editor of news. Email: emilie@berkeleyside.org. Twitter: emraguso. Phone: 510-459-8325.