Berkeley police: 2 men with guns arrested after Cornerstone shooting

Investigators arrested both men in June and found an extensive cache of weapons at their homes, police said.

Police recovered evidence during the arrest of Raul Mercado. Credit: BPD
Vincent Arrabito. Credit: BPD

An argument between security staff and patrons who were thrown out of Cornerstone bar in May led to a shooting outside the popular downtown Berkeley concert venue, court papers show.

In the weeks after the gunfire, police arrested two men, 34-year-old Vincent Arrabito of Pinole and 33-year-old Raul Mercado Jr. of Richmond, authorities said this week. Arrabito has been charged with two gun-related felonies, including firing a semi-automatic handgun with gross negligence, while charges against Mercado are still under review.

Investigators arrested both men in June during separate search warrant operations and found an extensive cache of weapons at each of their homes, Berkeley police said.

The gunfire took place May 21 just after 11:20 p.m. When the shooting broke out, police were dispatched to Cornerstone, at 2367 Shattuck Ave. (at Durant Avenue), and learned that two people who had been asked to leave Cornerstone came back in a gray Jeep and “fired several shots into the air.” There were no injuries reported in connection with the shooting.

Surveillance video reviewed by police showed “bar patrons and employees running from gun fire and attempting to find shelter after hearing the gun shots. It was evident the bar staff and patrons were in fear for their safety,” police said in court papers.

Police tracked down Arrabito from his license plate, according to court papers, and later found that cellphone records placed him in Berkeley just before the shooting.

Police recovered evidence during the arrest of Vincent Arrabito. Credit: BPD

On June 11, Berkeley police searched Arrabito’s home in Pinole and found “two unregistered rifles, an unregistered pistol and narcotics.”

One of the guns had a high-capacity magazine. Officers arrested Arrabito that day.

According to court papers, Arrabito told police Cornerstone security staff had assaulted him, which made him angry: “He then got into his vehicle, loaded a firearm, and shot the firearm once in the air directly in front of the business.”

On June 15, the Alameda County district attorney’s charged Arrabito with firing a semi-automatic handgun with gross negligence and carrying a loaded, unregistered firearm in a city, according to court papers. He was released from custody after posting a bail of $50,000, according to court records online. He is scheduled for arraignment Aug. 11 at the East County Hall of Justice in Dublin.

Raul Mercado. Credit: BPD

Several days later, on June 15, BPD searched Mercado’s home in Richmond, seizing “several different weapons (rifles, shotguns, handguns and ammunition).” 

Arrabito and Mercado were arrested on suspicion of discharging a firearm in a negligent manner, police said.

Mercado is no longer in custody and the charges against him are still under review.

Shootings have been on the rise in Berkeley since 2018: Berkeley has had at least 18 confirmed gunfire calls this year. Last year as of this time, there had been 12.

Emilie Raguso is Berkeleyside’s senior editor of news. Email: emilie@berkeleyside.org. Twitter: emraguso. Phone: 510-459-8325.