Grizzly Peak Blvd near Signpost 14. Photo: Tracey Taylor
Grizzly Peak Boulevard near Signpost 14. Photo: Tracey Taylor

Editor’s note: Readers looking for information on the Oct. 29, 2020, homicide investigation should see this story.Original story: Authorities are investigating a fatality Tuesday morning on Grizzly Peak Boulevard in Berkeley, and it may have been a homicide, police report.

Early details about the circumstances surrounding a man’s death there have been somewhat confusing and in conflict, as multiple law enforcement agencies have been involved.

The University of California Police Department responded first to the scene, at 10:39 a.m. Tuesday, according to that agency’s daily online log. UCPD listed the 20-year-old Hispanic man found there as a “victim of homicide.”

The Oakland Police Department is handling the case, however, and it has not confirmed that information. OPD has classified the death as a “suspicious circumstance” pending further analysis by the Alameda County Coroner’s Bureau, OPD said in a brief statement late Wednesday afternoon. OPD told Berkeleyside after publication that the man did suffer from an apparent gunshot wound.

Officers responded near Grizzly Peak and South Park Drive on Tuesday morning for a report of an unresponsive person, OPD said. When they got to the scene, they located a man in a vehicle.

“Emergency medical services also responded … to provide medical treatment. The man was pronounced deceased at the scene,” said OPD.

Berkeleyside broke the news early Tuesday afternoon about the death investigation after multiple readers asked about road closures on Grizzly Peak.

A police source told Berkeleyside on Tuesday that there was a death investigation underway near Signpost 14. That is south of Centennial Drive.

The area is actually within the jurisdiction of the University of California Police Department, but that agency has been tied up this week due to political rallies on and near campus. OPD picked up the case as a result.

According to unconfirmed scanner reports reviewed by Berkeleyside, an East Bay Regional Park District staffer may have alerted UCPD to the discovery of the unresponsive man in a Pontiac near Signpost 14. That location was described over the scanner as “in the area of a rock wall where the motorcycles hang out.”

Shortly after UCPD officers arrived on the scene, they said the coroner’s office needed to be alerted to the incident.

The man was found in a vehicle registered to an address in Antioch, according to unconfirmed scanner traffic.

If the death is ultimately determined to be a homicide, it would be just the second one of the year within BPD’s or UCPD’s jurisdiction.

Update: Brendan Zarrilli shared the following information in the comments on an earlier Berkeleyside story. It appears below in full:

I live down the street from the intersection of Grizzly Peak and Centennial, on Creston Rd. Yesterday [Tuesday] around 10:45am I was driving to Walnut Creek for a meeting at 11am. When I approached the intersection, there was a man standing in front of a pickup truck with a neon orange vest on and a “Stop/Slow” sign. I assumed there was construction/maintenance going on ahead, but two cyclists in front of me were signaled to take Golf Course Rd. I was curious, so I rolled down my window to ask if it were possible to get through. The man said “Nobody can get through right now, there’s been a murder.” I was a bit taken aback, but said “Ok, well thanks for letting me know.” I wasn’t sure how to respond, really. So I turned left onto Golf Course Rd and followed the detour until I emerged at Frowning Ridge. When I got there, there was another man wearing what looked like construction gear, also waving cars through with a “Stop/Slow” sign, but here there were also two SUV police cars with lights on (but no sirens). Then, a little further down Grizzly Peak, as I drove toward Fish Ranch/24 I saw about 15-20 men dressed in bright orange hazmat suits that looked like they were clearing brush, or possibly scouring for evidence. Opposite of them, there were three people on the side of the road. One man was wearing a polo shirt with a police badge on it while being interviewed by the man next to him, who was holding a microphone. I don’t recall seeing a cameraman, however, and I’m not sure if the men in the orange hazmat suits are linked to the possible murder, but it would be a strange coincidence if they were not. When I passed by the same area about 1.5 hrs later, the men in suits were gone (there were; however, bundles of removed brush lining the road) and the men in construction gear, as well as the police SUVs, were gone. The road was still blocked from Frowning Ridge to Centennial though. I hope this helps clarify some things for you, …. Stay safe Berkeley!This story was updated after publication to include additional details.

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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...