A 19-year-old Berkeley man already in custody after being found by police with an unregistered gun is now facing new charges in connection with two shootings in December.
Authorities say Aaron Meredith — identified previously by police as a “known gang member” — was found with a gun later tied to shootings on Sacramento and Ward streets in December. In the first case, at a market, a store clerk and customers narrowly escaped injury, police said, though one person in a nearby car was injured by glass fragments. In the second, a sleeping child was cut by flying glass. Both shootings caused significant alarm in the community, drawing hundreds to a meeting at San Pablo Park in January.
Meredith, police said in the annual crime report to City Council last week, entered a “no contest” plea for illegal gun possession from the Jan. 19 prowling case in North Berkeley, and got a four-month jail sentence.
Ballistics tests then determined that the handgun he had during his arrest was the same one used in shootings at Sacramento Market and on Ward Street in December. On March 9, the Alameda County district attorney’s office charged Meredith with both incidents, police announced last week.
On Dec. 25, at 2 p.m. in the 2900 block of Sacramento Street, a man got out of a vehicle in front of the Sacramento Street Market and began shooting at several other males standing outside.
“Although no one was hit, bullets went through the front window of the store which was occupied by a clerk and several customers,” police said. The shooter fled, but police found six shell casings at the scene, and a community member who was sitting in a vehicle, and was struck in the face by shattering glass, identified the shooter as Meredith.
Four days later, at about 11 p.m., two males got out of a car and shot at a person standing in front of a home in the 1400 block of Ward.
“At least one of the bullets went through a second floor bedroom window where two children were sleeping,” police said, and one of them, a 5-year-old boy, was cut in the head by flying glass debris, according to court papers. Four shell casings were recovered at the scene.
BPD officials credited community tips last week with helping to solve tough cases.
“Where suspects are able to evade arrest initially, our officers’ follow-up investigations focus on gathering evidence, identifying suspects, and ultimately apprehending the suspect and closing out the case,” police told council last week. “Without a doubt we are even more successful in our efforts when we are supported by our community which was evidenced in several of the above cases.”
Meredith remains in custody at Santa Rita Jail, according to online records from the Alameda County sheriff’s office. His bail has been set at $1,025,000. He is set to enter a plea in the new case April 5.
Meredith has now been charged with nine felonies: five counts of assault with a semiautomatic firearm, in connection with shooting at three men and two women, two counts of shooting at an occupied vehicle, and two counts of shooting at an inhabited dwelling, according to court papers.
Meredith also goes by the name “Vonnie,” or “Lil Vonnie,” on social media. He and friends posted a music video last year identifying as “Babas.” The group has previously been identified by authorities as a Berkeley gang.
Meredith was arrested in Berkeley in 2015, along with a group of other young men, after an attack that left one teen in critical condition. (The victim, Sultan Bey, was killed in North Oakland earlier this month.) Police ultimately released the young men and no charges were filed.
Police also picked up Meredith, along with two other young men from Berkeley, in January 2016 in connection with a shooting on Russell Street between Sacramento and McGee. No injuries were reported. The outcome of that case was unknown, but no prior convictions are listed for Meredith in court papers related to the latest charges.