Police detained a man in mental health crisis in downtown Berkeley on Wednesday. Photo: Citizen reporter

A man wrapped in Christmas lights and covered in feces was detained by police in downtown Berkeley and taken for a psychiatric evaluation on Wednesday afternoon, authorities report.

Officers were called to the 2000 block of Shattuck Avenue at 1:15 p.m. to assess a man who was reportedly trying to take Christmas lights off a tree in front of the Patelco Credit Union ATM.

The man, who appeared to be in a mental health crisis, had wrapped some of the lights around his forearms, said Officer Byron White, Berkeley police spokesman. The man had also begun to eat the “live bulbs” and bark from the tree.

Officers tried to speak with the man, who was “obviously in distress,” White said. “They wanted to get him help, but he took off running.”

The man ran west through downtown streets and sidewalks, and “repeatedly smeared his feces all over his body.”

Police chased the man and managed to detain him at Civic Center Park near 2180 Milvia St.

The man, who is 24, was sent to the hospital for a psychiatric evaluation, White said.

A reader who saw the large emergency response near Civic Center Park asked Berkeleyside to find out what had happened.

“There were lots of cops there,” White said. “It must have been quite a spectacle.”

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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...