The Berkeley Police Department regularly releases cases of community interest, which include incidents that involve violence or weapons or that people in the city have asked about. In 2018, BPD handled about 73,000 incidents and made more than 2,000 arrests. Every month, there are more than 300 Part 1, or serious felony, crimes in Berkeley. Arrestees are innocent until proven guilty.
GUNFIRE IN WEST BERKELEY Police found bullet casings on the ground after getting calls Sunday night about gunfire in West Berkeley. At about 10 p.m., officers responded to Eighth Street and Channing Way about the gunfire reports. They searched the area and found the casings. Berkeleyside has reported on eight gunfire calls in the city in 2019 and put them on a map. Police have said they have no official list of the shootings.
PAROLEE HELD AFTER ARSON ARREST A 40-year-old parolee from Berkeley is being held without bail after he reportedly bit a police officer and threatened to burn down an apartment building and kill himself, police report. Friday, police were called to the 2000 block of University Avenue (near Milvia Street) at 7:30 p.m. for a report of a domestic dispute. After they got there, a man threatened to kill himself and burn the building down, police said. The man lit his shirt on fire, according to BPD, so officers kicked in the apartment door and restrained the man, who was identified as Jeremiah Chamness. Chamness bit one of the officers who restrained him, BPD said. Chamness was arrested on suspicion of domestic violence battery, battery on a police officer, resisting arrest, arson and violation of parole. Chamness appears only to have been charged with parole violation, according to available court records. He is scheduled for a parole revocation hearing Friday at the East County Hall of Justice in Dublin.
MAN CHARGED WITH INDECENT EXPOSURE AND TRYING TO HIT COP An Oakland man has been charged with two misdemeanors after police say he exposed his genitals to two women and an 8-year-old in front of a children’s play center in West Berkeley. Friday, police responded to the 2900 block of Seventh Street (near Heinz Avenue) for the indecent exposure report. Police found the suspect, who was carrying a metal pole, near Potter Street and Seventh Street, according to BPD. The man, later identified as 25-year-old Joshua Wilson, “swung the metal pole at the officer (narrowly missing the officer’s head).” Wilson ran off but police caught him a few blocks away, BPD said. He was arrested on suspicion of annoying/molesting a minor, assault with a deadly weapon on a police officer, indecent exposure and resisting arrest. Wilson was charged with indecent exposure and attempted battery on an officer. He remains in custody at Santa Rita Jail and is scheduled for a pretrial hearing at Wiley Manuel Courthouse in Oakland on Monday, according to court records online. He is being held with a bail of $20,000. Wilson was already on probation in connection with a November 2018 misdemeanor conviction for assault with force likely to produce great bodily injury.
15 ROBBERIES IN SIX DAYS Police arrested two people after a spate of robberies in Berkeley in the past week. Seven of the robberies took place over two days. The city usually averages about a robbery a day.
Two young men robbed a 19-year-old woman of her cellphone as she walked at 10:30 p.m. in the 2300 block of Channing Way (near Ellsworth Street) on April 15. The men were described as black, 19-20 years old, wearing dark clothing.
Three people robbed a 26-year-old pedestrian of his backpack, which contained his laptop, as he walked in the 2700 block of Benvenue Avenue (near Derby Street) on April 16 at 8 p.m. The robbers fled in a white sedan. One of them was described as black, in his early 20s, 5’8″-5’9″, with a small to medium build.
About 40 minutes later, a 75-year-old man in the 2600 block of Dwight Way asked a man who was sleeping in front of his property to leave. The interloper took the resident’s flashlight and fled. Police found him a few blocks away and arrested him on suspicion of robbery and battery, according to BPD. He was identified as 26-year-old Dylan Halimi, whose address was unknown. According to court records, Halimi has been charged with elder abuse and trespassing, both misdemeanors. He remains in custody with a bail of $10,000 and is scheduled for a pretrial hearing Monday, according to court records.
The same night just before 10:20 p.m., two women robbed a 21-year-old pedestrian of her laptop and bag as she walked on Carleton Street toward Dana Street. One of the robbers was described as white, 20-30 years old, with a medium to heavy build, wearing jeans and a jacket. The other was described as white, 25-33 years old, with brown or golden hair, a medium to heavy build, wearing a dark jacket and jeans. They were seen driving away in a dark gray sedan, police said.
Ten minutes later, four men pushed a 26-year-old man to the ground, kicked him twice in the face and robbed him of his cellphone and laptop as he walked in the 2500 block of Le Conte Avenue (near Euclid Avenue). Witnesses said the robbers were black, in their 20s and wore dark hooded tops. The victim sustained swelling around his eye during the attack. Oakland police later found the phone abandoned in that city.
A woman robbed a 33-year-old mother carrying her 1-year-old baby of her wallet as she walked at 12:20 p.m. April 17 on 67th Street near Mabel Street. Witnesses described the robber as a black woman in her early 20s, 5 feet to 5’2″ tall, with a slim to medium build and short curly hair tied in a ponytail. She was wearing an olive green tank top and black pants and was seen leaving in a newer white sedan.
About 30 minutes later, at 12:46 p.m., a man robbed a 25-year-old of his scooter just after he rented it from a kiosk in the 2000 block of Shattuck Avenue (near University Avenue). The victim recorded the robber leaving on the scooter and shared it with police, who “were able to recognize the suspect and found him a few blocks away.” The man was identified as 54-year-old auto mechanic Charles Bacon. He was arrested on suspicion of robbery and probation violation, police said. Bacon has been charged with battery and grand theft from a person, both misdemeanors. He remains in custody at Santa Rita Jail in Dublin with a bail of $10,000 and is scheduled for a pretrial hearing May 1 at the Wiley Manuel Courthouse in Oakland. Bacon was placed on probation in August 2018 after being arrested that month on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon.
A woman armed with scissors tried to rob a 62-year-old of her purse as she walked April 17 at 11:40 p.m. in the 2700 block of Garber Street (near College Avenue). Witnesses said the robber was a black woman in her late teens or early 20s who was seen leaving in an older white or beige sedan that may have been occupied by three other people. During the robbery attempt, the woman cut the victim’s hand with the scissors, police said.
Thursday, two people robbed a 25-year-old man of his laptop as he sat inside Espresso Roma at 2960 College Ave. (at Ashby Avenue) at 7:15 p.m. Police released video of the incident and have asked for help to find the culprits. No arrests have been made. In the video, three people in hooded sweatshirts walk up to the café door on Ashby. Two walk inside and speak briefly to the cashier. They walk back to the door then, suddenly, one grabs a laptop from a man near the door who was working on his computer. The coffee shop has been a popular target for robbers and thieves. BPD said there have been 31 laptop robberies and thefts from Berkeley cafés in 2019.
Early Saturday morning, a man with a handgun robbed a 22-year-old man of his backpack as he walked in the 2600 block of Parker Street (near Shattuck Avenue) just after midnight. Witnesses said the robber was black, 25-30 years old, about 6 feet tall and heavyset, wearing a dark blue zip-up hooded top.
Less than 30 minutes later, a man with a gun robbed a 17-year-old girl of her cellphone as she walked on Dwight Way near Ellsworth Street. Witnesses said the man was black, about 5 feet 6 inches tall with a medium build, in a white/gray hooded top. He was last seen driving away in a white or gray sedan.
Saturday at 7:50 a.m., a teenager with “bushy blond hair” punched an 18-year-old jogger and knocked him unconscious, then robbed him of his cellphone and wallet near Monterey Avenue and Hopkins Street. Witnesses said the robber was white, 16-18 years old, about 5’7″-5’8″ tall with a large build and bushy blond hair, and wore a gray T-shirt and tan pants. The jogger’s phone was found nearby and returned to him.
A man and woman robbed a 52-year-old man of his tricycle as he stood in the 3000 block of Adeline Street (near Ashby) on Saturday at 1 p.m. Witnesses said one of the robbers was a white woman, about 5 feet tall with a slim build, in a black short-sleeved shirt and blue jeans. The other was described as a white man, about 5 feet 10 inches tall, who was bald and had tattoos on both arms. The tricycle was abandoned less than a mile away in the 1700 block of 63rd Street (near King Street). It was returned to the victim.
Also Saturday, at 5:40 p.m., a man robbed a 22-year-old woman of her rental bicycle when she stopped in the 1200 block of Fourth Street (near Harrison Street). The man was described as black, 20-30 years old, 5’9″ to 6 feet tall, wearing a red sweatshirt and black pants.
RECENT THEFTS While robberies involve force or fear, thefts involve the taking of personal property without these elements.
On April 16, a thief snatched a cellphone from a 26-year-old woman as she walked in the 2800 block of College Avenue near Russell Street just before 8 p.m. The thief was described as black (no age listed) and wore a black and red shirt, faded blue jeans and a dark cap. He was seen running to a white sedan that had four other occupants.
On April 17 at 4:55 p.m., someone stole a laptop from a table inside Alchemy Collective Café at 1741 Alcatraz Ave. (at Ellis Street) after its owner left it unattended briefly. No further details were provided. In early April, laptop thieves also targeted the coffee shop.
SCAM ALERT Police said they received a report Thursday from a young woman who had been scammed out by a man who claimed to be a Berkeley police officer. The woman got a call from someone who identified himself as BPD “Officer Neil Matthew.” The department says it has no officers by that name. The number appeared to come from the department’s non-emergency number — 510-981-5900 — and “The scammer demanded that the woman send him all of the money (to be paid with bitcoin) in her bank account because she was under investigation for drug trafficking and fraudulent activities.” He called the woman repeatedly from multiple numbers, including 911, said Officer Byron White, BPD spokesman. “Scammers have figured out ways to mask their own telephone numbers with official numbers on your caller ID.” White reminded the community that “the police will never call you—threatening with arrest if you don’t pay them money.”
According to BPD, “the amount of cyber-enabled fraud crimes have been on the rise over the past few years.” Read more from BPD about the scam.