A group of youth fleeing from a laptop snatch in a vehicle stolen during an armed carjacking in Oakland ran into a vehicle and hit a pedestrian sitting on a bench Tuesday, Oct. 5, 2021, authorities said. Credit: Jon Jackson

Five youth arrested after a car crash that sent a pedestrian to the hospital Tuesday in Berkeley have also been arrested on suspicion of a robbery at gunpoint this week in Walnut Creek, authorities now report.

The youth, ages 11-15 years old, were arrested in Berkeley on Tuesday after a reported laptop snatch from a Fourth Street coffee shop and the police pursuit that followed when officers realized the getaway car had been stolen in an armed carjacking the day before.

On Wednesday evening, Walnut Creek police said the same crew from Tuesday’s incidents had also committed a violent crime Monday in their city: A woman had been walking downtown in the 1400 block of North Main Street shortly before 10 p.m. when a group of young people got out of a car and ran up behind her.

“One suspect brandished a handgun, while other suspects pulled her to the ground by her hair and stole her purse,” Walnut Creek PD said in a prepared statement. “The woman was not seriously injured during the robbery.”

The group fled from the robbery in the stolen car, Walnut Creek PD said, which officers learned had been stolen earlier that day in the Oakland carjacking.

According to the Oakland Police Department, a man had been sitting in his car Monday just before 11:30 a.m. in the 2600 block of East 21st Street, “when four suspects approached on foot. One of the suspects pointed a handgun at the victim and ordered him out of the vehicle.” OPD told Berkeleyside Thursday evening that this remains “an active investigation.”

The public did not learn about the crime spree until Tuesday afternoon when the Berkeley incidents unfolded. The police chase and subsequent events — including the crash of the stolen car, a somewhat extended block search and a helicopter overhead — drew widespread attention in Berkeley and beyond.

That day, BPD said, a man had been typing on his laptop outside Artís Coffee, at 1717 Fourth St., at about 2:20 p.m. when a stranger approached him and asked a question to distract him. The stranger then grabbed the man’s laptop and drove off in an occupied getaway car.

A witness got the getaway car’s license plate, and police quickly determined it had been taken the prior day during the armed carjacking in Oakland, BPD said.

Berkeley patrol officers spotted the stolen car and chased the driver, who sped through the city — at one point heading westbound in the eastbound lanes of University Avenue — before crashing into a vehicle and a bystander at San Pablo Avenue, police said.

The bystander who was hit, a 52-year-old man, was rushed to the hospital for the treatment of a serious leg injury. Updates regarding his condition were unavailable Thursday.

After the pursuit ended in Berkeley, police ultimately arrested all five youth, authorities said. Some of them were wearing ankle monitors because they were already on probation, according to police.

“Some of the property stolen from the victim in Walnut Creek was recovered during the arrest of the juveniles,” Walnut Creek PD said.

Police also recovered the stolen laptop in the crashed car after the Berkeley collision, BPD said. The youth were arrested on suspicion of grand theft, possession of stolen property, evading police, hit-and-run causing injury, possession of a stolen vehicle and resisting arrest.

BPD originally said the youth ranged in age from 12 to 15 but said Wednesday that, in fact, at least one of the juveniles was 11.

On Tuesday, the Oakland Police Department took custody of two of the youth, while the other three were taken to Alameda County Juvenile Hall in San Leandro. BPD said at least one member of the group was a girl, while the others were boys. All of the juveniles were from Oakland, police said Thursday.

“Walnut Creek detectives are continuing to investigate this case along with Berkeley’s and Oakland’s police departments,” Walnut Creek PD said in the prepared statement Wednesday evening. “As the investigation is still active, only limited information can be shared at this time.”

This story was updated Thursday to include additional information from BPD and OPD.

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 of the Year...