William Turner. Photo: BPD

Berkeley police have asked the community to be on the lookout for a man linked to several bizarre run-ins with local children earlier this year.

Police identified that man as William Nicholas Turner, who authorities previously said tried to give three kids, including a 1-year-old baby, a mystery drink at North Berkeley’s Ohlone Park in June. Turner was charged with annoying or harassing a child in that case. When police first spoke with him, they “became immediately concerned with his unnatural focus on children,” said BPD on Monday. “He definitely fixated on younger kids,” the mother of the baby told Berkeleyside in an exclusive interview earlier this year.

“The Berkeley Police Department shares this information in the hopes that families who visit our parks will remain vigilant for William Turner or any other person who may pose a threat to our community,” said BPD in a prepared statement Monday afternoon. Police said they put out the alert following Turner’s release to warn the public about the “potential threat to children.”

In court papers, Berkeley Police Officer Jesse Grant documented several incidents involving 36-year-old Turner that raised community concerns. In May, a witness said Turner removed nearly all his clothes in front of a preschool before police were called to take him for a psychological evaluation. Several weeks later, there was the incident at the Ohlone Park tot lot where Turner reportedly tried to convince several children to drink from a bottle he claimed held water and honey. After speaking with police, he was placed on an emergency psychiatric detention and was later taken to jail.

Then, at the end of June, Grant said in court documents that Turner “stripped down to black underwear” and got on a playground swing at Ohlone Park after approaching children there and confessing to their mother that he had been sent to prison and “wrongfully accused for child molestation.”

According to court records online, Turner was found guilty Aug. 16 of one misdemeanor charge of engaging in lewd conduct after entering a plea of no contest. He was sentenced to three years of probation, which includes a “stay away order” from all parks and schools in Alameda County.

After Turner’s arrest, the city worked to post signage around town in numerous tot lots to make it clear that adults without children are not allowed.

Turner was most recently arrested in Berkeley on Sept. 1. He was charged with resisting arrest and disobeying a court order, according to records online. Both are misdemeanors. Minimal detail was available about what took place during that incident. The BPD log indicates it was related to a disturbance — disorderly conduct — reported at Center and Oxford streets at 4:45 a.m. BPD described the location as “near Berkeley High School, and Berkeley City College.”

That case appears to have been dismissed Sept. 8, and Turner is no longer in custody.

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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...