Berkeley police reported on several crimes this week. They appear below. Send tips to Berkeleyside with your public safety questions.
RICHMOND TEENS ARRESTED AFTER CARJACKING ATTEMPT Police arrested two Richmond teenagers and recovered both a “ghost gun” and an AR-15-style rifle after an attempted carjacking near Ohlone Park on Tuesday, authorities report. On Tuesday at 8:50 p.m., a man in his 50s was approached from behind by two teenagers who demanded his car keys, police said. The man, who had parked in the 1900 block of Grant Street (near Hearst Avenue), turned around and saw one of the teenagers pointing a rifle at him, BPD said in a prepared statement.
“The man believed the rifle was probably a toy gun and walked away,” police said. One of the teens initially followed the man but stopped when he walked up to a nearby residence, according to BPD.
Officers who searched the area for the suspects ultimately arrested one of the boys, a 15-year-old, at the North Berkeley BART station, and the other one, a 17-year-old, in Ohlone Park, police said. When police searched the 15-year-old, “they found a loaded AR-15 style rifle concealed inside his clothing. When officers searched the path the 17-year-old used to flee on his scooter, they found a loaded polymer non-serialized handgun (AKA Ghost gun) with a 30-round magazine,” according to BPD.
Both teenagers were arrested on suspicion of attempted carjacking and several weapons-related violations. Their names were not released because they are minors. No further information was available about the status of the case for the same reason.
BERKELEY POLICE ARREST LOCAL MAN WANTED AFTER NUMEROUS BANK ROBBERIES Police arrested a Berkeley man wanted in connection with numerous Bay Area bank robberies after finding him asleep in his car on Second Street on Sunday night, authorities report.
Berkeley officers were “checking out a vehicle that looked like it was idling unoccupied” just south of Gilman Street shortly before 11 p.m. and “discovered the vehicle was wanted in connection with a bank robbery in Belmont,” California, police said. Police realized the connection after running a records check on the vehicle’s license plate number, said BPD.
Officers looked inside the car and saw a man — later identified as 44-year-old Aklilu Asefaha — “slouched down in the driver’s seat asleep,” according to BPD. Police woke the man, who turned out to be wanted on suspicion of a spate of Bay Area bank robberies, and took him into custody without incident, BPD said.
According to the Novato Police Department, the first bank robbery took place in Santa Rosa on Dec. 28, 2020, followed by bank robberies in Rohnert Park and in Greenbrae on Dec. 30. Novato PD began investigating the case after an unsuccessful robbery that same day at a Novato Chase Bank: “Witnesses reported that a man entered the bank and demanded cash from the register while referencing that he had a firearm in his jacket. The suspect left the area before the teller could get cash from the drawer and drove away from the area in a grey Ford Fusion sedan.”
Over the next month, according to Novato PD, its “investigators worked with detectives from Santa Rosa, Rohnert Park, Central Marin Police Authority, Dublin Police and Belmont Police to share evidence and coordinate investigative efforts to identify and locate the suspect in these robberies.”
Police linked the same suspect to a bank robbery in Dublin on Jan. 28 and, on Feb. 4, identified Asefaha as the primary suspect in the case. Novato PD obtained an arrest warrant for Asefaha and alerted other Bay Area law enforcement agencies about him, according to a prepared statement.
Authorities said they also linked Asefaha to a robbery Friday at a Belmont Bank of America. According to Belmont PD, detectives from that agency “were able to track the suspect to the East Bay with the assistance of officers and detectives from the San Bruno, Colma, Daly City and Oakland Police Departments. Detectives were soon able to identify the vehicle and the suspect in this case.”
According to Novato PD, “Asefaha was booked at the Santa Rita jail related to the Novato and Central Marin robbery warrants. Asefaha faces additional charges in other counties related to the robberies in Sonoma County, Alameda and San Mateo.”
He was not in custody at Santa Rita Jail at the time of this report, so additional information about his case was unavailable.
GUN FOUND AFTER ARMED ROBBERY REPORT Police arrested a 27-year-old man who tried to hide inside a city building after an armed robbery at Civic Center Park on Jan. 29, authorities report. That day just before 3:40 p.m., police said, there was an armed robbery at the downtown Berkeley park. Witnesses told police the suspect ran inside the Community Resource Center at 1931 Center St. to evade capture: “When officers arrived, they formed a perimeter around the area and directed everyone to exit onto Center Street. While people were exiting the building, officers were able to detain the suspect as he exited the building,” BPD said.
Police identified the suspect as 27-year-old King Jamil Rahshun Stevenson (no address). According to BPD, officers found the man’s backpack inside the municipal building during their investigation. Inside the bag, BPD said, “they also found the handgun used in the robbery.” The Alameda County district attorney’s office charged Stevenson on Feb. 2 with carrying a concealed firearm and a criminal enhancement, BPD said. King remains in custody and is scheduled for a readiness hearing Feb. 18 at the René C. Davidson Courthouse in Oakland, according to jail records online.
ARMED ROBBERY ON OXFORD STREET Police arrested a 17-year-old boy after he reportedly used a replica pistol to take a cellphone from a pedestrian in downtown Berkeley on Jan. 30. The man was walking in the 2100 block of Oxford Street (near Addison Street) at 6:55 p.m. when someone came up to him from behind, pointed a gun at him, stole his cellphone and ran away.
“With the description of the suspect, officers soon located the suspect at the Downtown Berkeley BART station,” BPD reported. “When officers searched the suspect, they found a Sig Sauer replica pistol as well as the victim’s cellphone.” The 17-year-old — who had no permanent address — was arrested on suspicion of robbery. Because he is a juvenile, no further information was immediately available about the case.
LOADED HANDGUN FOUND DURING TRAFFIC STOP Police arrested two young men in connection with several weapons-related violations in early February, according to BPD. On Feb. 2 just after 2 a.m., a BPD officer was driving south in the rain on Martin Luther King Jr. Way near Derby Street when a northbound driver sped past at more than 50 mph in a 25 mph zone, BPD said.
“After making a U-turn and driving after the vehicle, the officer was able to stop the vehicle a few blocks away,” according to BPD. “When officers contacted the driver and passenger, they could smell that someone had recently been smoking marijuana inside and the driver acknowledged that he had been smoking marijuana while driving. When officers searched the vehicle, they found a large zip-lock bag of marijuana (about 50 grams) as well as a loaded handgun with a high-capacity magazine.”
Police identified the men as 18-year-old Oscar Javier Hernandez-Medina of Stockton and 19-year-old Luis Alberto Silva-Torres of Oakland in connection with the loaded gun. Neither man was listed as in-custody so no additional information was available about the case.
STRONGARM ROBBERY AT LOCAL MARKET A man alleged to have punched a store clerk in the face during a shoplifting incident in South Berkeley has been charged with battery and theft, authorities report. On Jan. 31 at 9:25 a.m., Dequan Brown, 27 (no address), walked into M&H Market at 3198 Adeline St. and started shopping, BPD said.
“While selecting items, the suspect announced that he was going to take the items without paying for them. When the clerk attempted to prevent the suspect from leaving, the suspect threatened the clerk with violence — culminating in the suspect punching the clerk in the face and leaving,” according to BPD. Police found Brown a few blocks away and arrested him. Brown remains in custody and is scheduled for a readiness hearing Feb. 18 at the René C. Davidson Courthouse in Oakland, according to jail records online.
PAIR ARRESTED AFTER MAILBOX BURGLARIES A man and woman from Antioch have been charged with multiple felony property crimes after police say they were arrested in connection with two separate mailbox burglaries at the same Berkeley apartment complex earlier this month, authorities report.
Police said CHP officers stopped the pair — 42-year-old William Thomas and 29-year-old Danielle Young — in Richmond on Feb. 4 after BPD investigators identified them as suspects in multiple cases. When officers searched their vehicle, police said, they located stolen identification, credit cards and stolen checks.
The investigation began Jan. 19 when two people later identified as Thomas and Young forced entry into an apartment building in the South Campus neighborhood and stole mail and packages from the lobby, said BPD. The burglary was caught on high-definition surveillance video, BPD said. The pair fled in a vehicle and their license plate was also caught on camera, according to BPD.
During the investigation, the property manager told police about an unreported burglary at the same complex in November 2020. BPD said Thomas was identified in surveillance footage from that incident.
On Feb. 3, BPD entered Thomas and Young and the vehicle registered to them into a database as a vehicle wanted in connection with a felony case, BPD said. The next day, the CHP stopped the pair in Richmond.
According to Alameda County jail records, the pair remains in custody at Santa Rita Jail. Thomas — who was charged with two counts of burglary, ID theft and a special allegation of committing a new offense while out on bail — is being held on $310,000 bail, according to court records online. He has multiple convictions related to forgery, burglary and ID theft.
Young, who was charged with the fraudulent possession of the personal information of more than 10 people, and two counts of burglary, is being held on $130,000 bail, according to jail records. They are scheduled to enter pleas in the case Tuesday at the East County Hall of Justice in Dublin.