Police: Driver arrested after shooting at motorist in the Claremont district

Police have not said what may have prompted the gunfire. BPD told Berkeleyside the investigation is ongoing.

Police seized a loaded gun in connection with a shooting investigation Friday at Ashby and Domingo avenues. Credit: BPD

Berkeley police arrested a Stockton man over the weekend in connection with a gunfire investigation that began Friday when a driver shot at a passing motorist at Ashby and Domingo avenues.

In the days that followed, police spotted the shooter in downtown Berkeley and ultimately arrested him when he later went to retrieve his Acura SUV, authorities said in response to a Berkeleyside inquiry. Police had towed the vehicle as part of the shooting investigation.

Berkeley has had nearly 40 shootings this year, continuing an upward trend that began in 2018. Until Friday, however, no shootings had been reported east of Dana Street, with the majority taking place in South and West Berkeley.

Officers on patrol initially began investigating the case Friday when someone who was stopped at the light at Ashby and Domingo avenues in the Claremont neighborhood fired a gun — from the driver’s side window — at a passing vehicle at 5:50 p.m., BPD said. No injuries were reported, but it was still a serious matter. Police spoke to witnesses and reviewed security footage and identified the shooter’s vehicle as a white Acura SUV.

Less than 24 hours later, an officer driving through downtown Berkeley spotted the same Acura double-parked near Shattuck Avenue and Kittredge Street, said Officer Byron White, BPD spokesperson. Police conducted a “high-risk” vehicle stop — in which multiple officers drew their guns — “because of the increased likelihood that there were armed suspects inside the vehicle.”

Robert Barnes II. Credit: BPD

A man and woman got out of the SUV and were safely detained, White said. Neither occupant was arrested at that time, but police seized the Acura and towed it as evidence related to the shooting, White said. After obtaining a search warrant, police searched the Acura and discovered a loaded handgun inside, he said.

On Sunday evening, police arrested 44-year-old Robert Barnes II when he went to the police station to get a form he needed to pick up his SUV from the towing company, White said.

Police arrested Barnes, a food delivery driver, on suspicion of shooting at an inhabited vehicle, carrying a concealed firearm and being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition.

White said the investigation is ongoing and that police could not say at this time what may have prompted the shooting.

Barnes was convicted in 2013 of shooting a firearm with gross negligence, according to court records online. In 2015, he was charged with drug sales and gun possession but the case was dismissed in connection with a plea deal in a different case.

As of Monday, Barnes remained in custody at Santa Rita Jail with a bail of $220,000. He is scheduled for arraignment Wednesday at the East County Hall of Justice, according to jail records online.

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