A roundup of some of the most serious crimes in Berkeley over the past month appears below. Send tips to Berkeleyside with your public safety questions. Arrested or charged individuals are presumed innocent.
CHARGES FILED AFTER ATTACK ON 68-YEAR-OLD WOMAN A man has been charged with elder abuse and assault with force likely to cause great bodily injury — both felonies — after authorities say he attacked a 68-year-old woman in northwest Berkeley on April 7. The woman had just come out of Walgreens, at 1050 Gilman St., at about 5:50 p.m. when she saw the man “yelling and throwing things around” outside the store: “When one of the thrown objects almost struck the woman, the woman asked the man to calm down,” according to BPD. “The man then walked over to the woman, cursed at her and then punched her in the face,” knocking her to the ground, police said.
A short time later, police found the man — identified as 46-year-old Graham Race (no address) — on Cornell Avenue, about five blocks from Walgreens, and arrested him. The woman was left with a significant injury to her eye, BPD said. The next day, the Alameda County district attorney’s office charged Race with both felonies. According to booking records, he remains in custody with a bail of $80,000 and is scheduled for a preliminary hearing, where a judge decides whether there is enough evidence for the case to go to trial, May 6.
FELONY GUN CHARGES AFTER TRAFFIC STOP An Oakland man has been charged with several gun-related crimes after a traffic stop in Berkeley earlier this month, authorities report. Police said they pulled over 44-year-old Darren Simmons at Warring and Derby streets, in the Southside neighborhood, after he failed to stop at a stop sign April 17 . During the stop, officers learned Simmons had a suspended license, BPD said. Officers found a loaded handgun, more than $1,200 in cash, a digital scale and an array of drugs including cocaine, ecstasy and 5 ounces of marijuana during a search of Simmons’ SUV, police said. Simmons, who is no longer in custody, has since been charged with three felonies: possession of a firearm by a felon, carrying a loaded firearm in a city and possession of a controlled substance with a firearm, according to court records online. Simmons has convictions dating back to 1999 for five felonies, including evading police, assault on a peace officer and drug possession. He is scheduled to enter a plea Wednesday at the East County Hall of Justice in Dublin.
GUNFIRE ON ASHBY AVENUE Police found evidence of gunfire but no victims during a recent loud reports investigation in South Berkeley, authorities report. On April 19 at 1 a.m., police responded to the 1200 block of Ashby Avenue, near San Pablo Avenue, on a report of gunfire. Officers searched the area and found several bullet casings on the ground. Police said there were no reported injuries.
Berkeley has had eight other confirmed gunfire calls in 2021, three more than last year at this time, BPD said Monday: On Jan. 2, a Berkeley police officer shot a man, who was wounded in the jaw but survived, after an alleged robbery at Walgreens in downtown Berkeley; on Feb. 14 just after 6:45 p.m., police responded to a negligent discharge report at a home in the 1900 block of Oxford Street and found damage to the residence; on Feb. 19 just after 1:10 a.m., there was gunfire in the 2500 block of Dana Street and police found casings at the scene; on Feb. 28 at midnight, someone shot at an inhabited dwelling in the 1200 block of Allston Way and damaged the building; on March 4, police found casings in the 3200 block of Sacramento Street (charges have been filed); on March 9, there was gunfire resulting from a domestic dispute at California and Prince streets (charges have been filed); on March 22, there was gunfire in southwest Berkeley linked to a stalking case (charges have been filed); and on April 22, there was gunfire at Fairview and Harper streets (Berkeleyside has requested additional information).
HATE CRIME ARRESTS Police arrested a Berkeley woman earlier this month after she reportedly called a delivery driver the N-word during a confrontation about driving, authorities report. On April 18 just before 8 p.m., officers responded to a disturbance between two motorists in North Berkeley at Delaware Street and McGee Avenue. Police said one of the drivers, a 35-year-old woman identified as Julie Walrand, got upset when she saw a delivery driver going too fast: The woman and her boyfriend “decided to follow the package delivery person — leading to a confrontation on the 1700 block of Delaware Street.” Police said Walrand “used force to prevent the package delivery person from leaving and used hateful language” disparaging Black people during the incident. Police arrested Walrand on suspicion of false imprisonment, battery, using offensive words and willfully threatening a person based on their perceived characteristics.
Walrand’s arrest was at least the second hate crime arrest in Berkeley in April. It followed the arrest of 29-year-old Christopher Welch (no address) on April 8. In that incident, police said a man had been walking with a friend in downtown Berkeley on Shattuck Avenue near Addison Street around 9 p.m. when a stranger approached them: “When the suspect got close to the man, the man told the suspect to stay away and continued walking. The suspect then started following the man and his friend — threatening to hurt them and exclaiming that they were of Chinese descent. The man and his friend were able to walk into a nearby business for safety and the suspect eventually left the area.” Police said they were able to identify Welch using the description provided to them because they had recently arrested him in the same area on suspicion of throwing a glass bottle at a passing vehicle. Police arrested Welch in connection with willfully threatening a person based on their perceived characteristics.
Neither Walrand nor Welch are in custody and neither appear to have been charged, according to Alameda County Superior Court records online. It’s worth noting, however, that many charging decisions for out-of-custody suspects have been delayed by the courts amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
In January, police arrested a 55-year-old woman on suspicion of a hate crime after she reportedly “yelled several hateful statements about people of Mexican descent” during a violent encounter downtown. She was ultimately charged only with misdemeanor battery in connection with that incident, according to court records.
A hate crime is defined as any crime against a person, group or property motivated by the victim’s real or perceiving protected social group, police said in a prepared statement, adding: “The Berkeley Police Department recognizes and places a high priority on the rights of all individuals guaranteed under state and federal law. The commission of a hate crime is a serious offense, which will not be tolerated in the City of Berkeley.”
BACK-TO-BACK GUN ARRESTS AT THE MARINA Officers making security checks at the Berkeley Marina on two recent nights confiscated guns during two separate stops, authorities report. On Sunday just after 3:10 a.m., police found a vehicle parked on Seawall Drive despite signs warning drivers that they cannot park in the area from 2-6 a.m., police said: “When the officer contacted the vehicle’s two occupants, the officer discovered a loaded handgun in the back seat.” Officers determined that the gun belonged to the passenger, 22-year-old Marcus Dubose-Williams of Oakland, BPD said. He was arrested on suspicion of carrying a loaded, concealed firearm. As of Monday, he was no longer in custody and no further information was available about the arrest.
About 24 hours after that arrest, an officer on Seawall Drive saw another vehicle parked there at 2:50 a.m. While speaking with both of its occupants, a man and woman, “officers spotted a loaded handgun made of polymer (AKA ghost gun) with a 33 round magazine on the floor of the backseat,” BPD said. Authorities use the term “ghost gun” to refer to firearms without serial numbers.
Police arrested the man, identified as 45-year-old Gerrell Roberson of Oakland, on suspicion of being a felon in possession of a firearm as well as possession of a controlled substance; police said they also found more than 2 grams of cocaine in his pockets. Police also arrested Roberson and the woman with him, 23-year-old Yiwen Deng (no address), on suspicion of carrying a loaded and concealed handgun, BPD said. Deng is no longer in custody, according to booking records online. Roberson is scheduled for arraignment Wednesday at Wiley Manuel Courthouse in Oakland. He remains in custody with a bail of $170,000, according to jail records.
Police said they could not release booking photos from either investigation because follow-up work is still underway.
WOMAN IN HER 80s ATTACKED IN LORIN DISTRICT A 40-year-old man has been charged with the unprovoked attack of a woman in her 80s in South Berkeley’s Lorin District at the beginning of the month. Matthew Gailliot (no address) is set to enter a plea in the case May 17. Police said the woman was walking north on Adeline Street, near 63rd Street, on April 1 at 12:15 p.m. when a man ran up behind her “and tackled her to the ground in an unprovoked attack” just as she began to cross the street. A bystander confronted the man, who ran to a nearby homeless encampment, police said. Police searched the encampment but did not find him, BPD said.
About two hours later, police were called to Adeline Street and Alcatraz Avenue for an altercation involving a small group of people: “When officers arrived, they discovered the suspect in the earlier attack being confronted by others in community.” Police took the man, identified as Gailliot, into custody.
The next day, the Alameda County district attorney’s office charged Gailliot with two misdemeanors, elder abuse and assault with force likely to produce great bodily injury, according to court records. He is no longer in custody, according to booking records online.
SEX ABUSE CHARGES FILED An Elk Grove man has been charged with the continuous sexual abuse in Berkeley of a child under 14, as well as three separate counts, for different time periods, alleging the commission of a sex crime with a child aged 10 or younger, according to court papers. The man, 63-year-old Lacy White, remains in custody at Santa Rita Jail in Dublin and is being held without bail, according to court records online. The allegations came to light in February when a mother and her 16-year-old daughter told Berkeley High staff that they had both been sexually abused in Berkeley by the same relative, according to court papers. The mother said she had been abused by the man in the 1970s and ’80s, from the time she was 5 until she turned 11, according to court documents. Her daughter said she had been abused from ages 5-10. BPD said detectives from its Youth Services Division “conducted an investigation, identified the suspect and promptly secured a warrant for his arrest.” In March, Berkeley police served a search warrant at White’s home in Elk Grove. According to BPD, White “made statements that corroborated the victim’s statement, but did not admit to sexual acts with a child.” White was charged with all four felonies in mid-March in connection with the allegations involving the teenage victim.
“Investigation of sexual assaults and crimes against children are some of the most important work police officers do,” BPD said in a prepared statement. “We commend our Detective Division who work tirelessly to investigate these crimes and ensure the safety of the most vulnerable members of our community.”
ROBBERIES NEAR UC BERKELEY The University of California Police Department put out an alert about a robbery at 2310 Telegraph Ave. (at Bancroft Way) — right next to campus — on Sunday. According to UCPD, “The suspect stole merchandise then assaulted an employee when confronted” just after 8 p.m. The robber ran off on Bancroft Way heading west and was not captured. UCPD also put out alerts about a robbery April 15 at International House at 1:45 p.m. (“The suspect vehicle was described as a white sedan last seen traveling northbound on Piedmont Ave / Gayley Road”); a robbery April 16 at Etcheverry Hall at 1:13 a.m. (“Suspect vehicle was described as a 4 door white sedan last seen traveling northbound on Euclid Avenue”); and a robbery April 21 at about 10:15 p.m. (“A robbery occurred at 2508 Benvenue Ave via gun. The suspect approached the victim, displayed a gun and stole the victim’s wallet. The suspect was last seen south bound on Benvenue Ave on foot”). UCPD released no additional details or descriptions.
LAPTOP THEFT NEAR UC CAMPUS A man stole a laptop from a woman working on the patio at Caffè Strada on April 20. The popular Southside Berkeley cafe, right next to the UC Berkeley campus, has been a repeat target for thieves in Berkeley in recent years. In this latest incident, a woman was working on her computer at about 11 a.m. when a man quickly approached her and took the laptop. The man, who was described as Hispanic, 25-30 years old, 5 feet 6 inches tall with a medium build, and wearing a white shirt and dark jeans, got into a getaway car and drove off, police said. Berkeleyside has asked police how many laptop thefts there have been so far in Berkeley this year. This post will be updated if that information is provided.
ATTEMPTED ROBBERY ON WOOLSEY Bystanders recently came to the aid of a woman who was fighting off would-be robbers in South Berkeley, causing the culprits to call off the attempt, authorities report. The woman, who is in her 20s, was walking westbound on Woolsey Street near Deakin Street on April 22 at about 4 p.m. when a black sedan stopped nearby, BPD said: “Two female suspects (wearing masks) got out of the back seats and quickly approached the woman. The suspects grabbed the woman’s tote bag and began pulling — leading to a struggle for the bag.” The woman screamed and bystanders came to her aid. The assailants then got back into the vehicle and left, authorities said. No further information was provided.
GUN CHARGES AFTER VEHICLE SEARCH LINKED TO POT An 18-year-old Vallejo man has been charged with possession of a loaded, unregistered firearm after he was stopped by police in Berkeley earlier this month. On April 11 just before 2:30 a.m., police conducted a traffic stop near University Avenue and Martin Luther King Jr. Way, BPD said. When officers spoke to the driver, they smelled marijuana inside the vehicle and, during a search, “discovered the remnants of fresh and burned marijuana as well as a loaded handgun with an extended magazine,” according to BPD. The DA’s office charged Josiah Semaj Vaughn on April 13 with carrying a concealed firearm in a vehicle, along with a special allegation related to ammunition, and carrying a loaded firearm in a city, along with a special allegation that the gun was not registered. Special allegations, if found true, can increase the penalties for sentencing. Vaughn is no longer in custody, according to court records online. He is scheduled for an attorney and plea hearing May 5 at the East County Hall of Justice in Dublin. Police said they could not release his booking photo at this time “as there is additional investigative work to be done.”
GHOST GUN ARREST Officers working as part of a specialized grant-funded traffic enforcement unit last month arrested an Oakland man with a “ghost gun” in the parking lot of a Berkeley hotel, authorities report. On March 26 just before 11:45 p.m., police responded to the parking lot of La Quinta Inn at 920 University Ave. (near Eighth Street) in West Berkeley on a report of a person with a gun. Arriving officers saw a motorist driving out of the parking lot in a vehicle that matched the description they had been given in connection with the gun call, BPD said. Officers stopped the driver on suspicion of a vehicle code violation, then searched the vehicle and found the ghost gun, according to BPD. Police said the driver — identified as 22-year-old Denzell Davis — admitted the gun was his. He was arrested on suspicion of carrying a loaded firearm, carrying a concealed firearm and carrying a firearm with a high-capacity magazine. Davis is no longer in custody, according to jail records online, and no additional information was immediately available about the status of the case.
LOADED GUNS SEIZED DURING TRAFFIC STOP Police arrested two local men after finding a pair of loaded guns in their possession during a vehicle search in South Berkeley last month, authorities report. On March 22, police on patrol near San Pablo Avenue and 63rd Street pulled over a driver during a vehicle enforcement stop at 2:25 a.m. Officers noticed a handgun on the floorboard in the back seat, BPD said, then searched the vehicle, ultimately finding a second gun as well. BPD arrested Jesus Maravilla Vivas, 22, of Oakland, and Angel Bautista, 21, of Berkeley, on suspicion of various firearm violations, police said. Neither man appeared to be in custody this week, according to jail records online, and no additional information was available about the case as of publication time.
HIGH-RISK SEARCH WARRANT Colma police served a search warrant in Berkeley on March 30 in connection with a prior arrest in Colma linked to an identity theft and fraud investigation, authorities report. Colma PD said Berkeley PD and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives helped serve two search warrants March 30, one in Berkeley in the 1300 block of Channing Way (near Bonar Street) and one on Linden Street in Oakland. Police said on March 30 that no new arrests stemmed from those searches.
Berkeley PD said its Special Response Team (SRT) — what other agencies call SWAT — helped with the operation on Channing Way because it was a “high-risk search warrant.”
“Colma PD does not have a SWAT team (special weapons and tactics team). BPD considers it standard procedure to have SRT serve this high-risk warrant to keep the officers involved, subjects and the public safe. SRT is the Berkeley PD SWAT team and is trained in handling high-risk situations,” BPD said in a prepared statement. “SRT members surrounded the residential location to ensure the safety of all parties in the neighborhood. SRT used trained, negotiators to try and de-escalate the situation and have the subject exit the residence on their own.”
All of the home’s occupants ultimately came outside, BPD said, which allowed Colma police to search the premises.
CRIME SNAPSHOT From Jan. 1 through April 25 (the most recent date available), there were reports of at least 99 robberies, 211 burglaries, 195 assaults and batteries, 45 weapon-involved calls, 15 sex crime reports and 21 arson calls, according to CrimeMapping.com, an official repository for local police data. (Click the “show crime report” box that appears toward the top of each linked page to display a list of incidents below the map.) There were also 290 stolen vehicles, 193 disturbances and 350 auto break-ins reported, according to CrimeMapping.
MORE POLICE DATA Find statistics related to BPD calls for service, arrests, jail bookings and demographic information, and other details, about police stops in the city’s open data portal. The city also posts a heat map showing 180 days of calls for service. See the crimes reported to BPD on CrimeMapping. The University of California Police Department used to post crime reports on CrimeMapping but it doesn’t seem to do so any longer. UCPD’s daily police log is online.