Crime roundup: Ghost guns, felony assault with metal can, armed robbery

Police seized several more ghost guns in recent weeks, along with 10 ounces of cocaine and nearly $7,000 cash discovered after a shoplifting call at REI.

Police confiscated an unserialized “ghost gun” Saturday in West Berkeley from a suspect wanted in connection with a domestic violence case. Credit: BPD

Berkeleyside regularly reports on notable Berkeley crimes, including those that involve violence or weapons, or that readers have asked about. Arrested or charged individuals are presumed innocent. Share public safety-related inquiries, including photos and video, via crime@berkeleyside.org. We’ll do our best to find out what happened.

DV, GHOST GUN ARREST Police found an unserialized “ghost gun” during the arrest Saturday of a man who ran from officers when they recognized him as wanted in connection with a domestic violence case, authorities report. On Saturday at 8:15 a.m., an officer on patrol spotted 39-year-old Antwan Dotson of Berkeley getting into a black Range Rover in the 2300 block of Eighth Street (near Bancroft Way), BPD said.

“The officer recognized the man as previously wanted in connection with a domestic violence incident where a victim suffered several head injuries in November,” BPD said.

The officer stopped to do a records check on Dotson, who then approached to ask the officer what he was doing, said BPD: “When the officer told the man that he had a warrant for his arrest, the man ran away.”

Antwan Dotson. Credit: BPD

BPD caught up with Dotson a half-block away when he “ran out of energy,” BPD said. Police then arrested Dotson and searched the shoulder bag he was wearing. That’s when, BPD said, police found the ghost gun (pictured at the top of this story). Dotson was arrested in connection with the domestic violence warrant, carrying a loaded, concealed firearm, being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition, and other violations, BPD said. Dotson remains in custody with a bail of $140,000, according to jail records online. He is scheduled for arraignment Wednesday at the East County Hall of Justice in Dublin.

In 2021, BPD confiscated 33 ghost guns throughout the year. They have been a growing problem in Berkeley and beyond. The City Council voted to ban them last year.

Police seized heroin, fentanyl, approximately 10 ounces of cocaine, two digital scales and about $6,900 cash during an arrest Saturday. Credit: BPD
Benjamin Patterson. Credit: BPD

SEIZED: 10 OUNCES COCAINE, $6,900 CASH Police arrested three men from out of town on Saturday night in connection with a large quantity of cocaine, two digital scales and nearly $7,000 in cash, along with apparently stolen goods from REI, authorities report.

As officer who had been dispatched to REI to take a shoplifting report — the fourth of the day, BPD said — walked outside the store shortly after 7 p.m. and noticed two men “who seemed particularly preoccupied by the officer’s presence.”

The officer ran a records check on the men’s car, a silver 2004 Volvo station wagon, and learned that the registered owner, 38-year-old Benjamin Patterson of Placerville, had a suspended license and should not have been driving, said BPD. When the officer walked over to the car, he spotted a glass pipe and a torch-style lighter, “commonly used to smoke drugs,” BPD said.

The officer shined his flashlight into the car and Bryce Adams, a 43-year-old Folsom man, emerged from the backseat, BPD said. While the officer spoke with him, Patterson and another man — 41-year-old James Laier of Carmichael — walked out of REI: “Despite carrying brand new items from inside the store, neither of the men appeared to have gone by the store’s registers,” according to BPD.

Police detained the men and searched the Volvo, “and found heroin, fentanyl, approximately 10 ounces of cocaine, two digital scales, and about $6,900 cash,” according to BPD. BPD arrested Patterson and Adams on suspicion of drug-related violations. They arrested Patterson and Laier on suspicion of theft.

Adams was cited and released at the scene so no booking photograph was available. No photograph of Laier was available because he was taken to the hospital, rather than jail, when he said he felt unwell, BPD said. Patterson is no longer in custody and charges have not been filed yet in the case; when suspects are out of custody, charging decisions can take weeks or months.

Police seized an illegal gun and drugs during a recent stop in West Berkeley. Credit: BPD
Giovanni Crafton. Credit: BPD

WARRANT, GHOST GUN ARREST An officer who stopped to check on a driver who had parked in the grass in West Berkeley found the man to have a warrant, several baggies of cocaine and an unserialized “ghost gun” with an extended magazine, authorities report. On Wednesday just after 3:20 a.m., the officer saw the man and his 2000 Dodge Durango parked near Ashby Avenue and Frontage Road and ran a records check on his license plate. Through that check, the officer learned the driver had an outstanding warrant.

The officer approached the driver, who was near the hood of the Durango performing some kind of repair, and arrested him on the warrant. During a subsequent search of the SUV, police found the gun and drugs, BPD said. On Thursday, the Alameda County district attorney’s office charged 27-year-old Giovanni Crafton (no address) with possession of a concealed firearm, a large-capacity magazine and a controlled substance, according to court records online. He is scheduled for a plea hearing Feb. 22 at Wiley W. Manuel Courthouse in Oakland. Crafton is no longer in custody.

Police found two ghost guns and a high-capacity magazine during a recent armed robbery investigation. Credit: BPD
Jerico Robertson. Credit: BPD

ARMED ROBBERY, 2 GHOST GUNS An Oakland man has been charged with armed robbery and gun crimes in connection with an incident in northwest Berkeley in late November and his subsequent arrest. On Nov. 29, a man with a gun threatened and demanded money from a person walking up to a fast-food restaurant at San Pablo Avenue and Delaware Street just after 4:10 p.m., BPD said. The armed robber took the victim’s money then drove off in an SUV.

Police talked to witnesses and reviewed restaurant security footage, and identified the robber as 44-year-old Jerico Robertson Sr. On Dec. 14, BPD detectives arrested Robertson in the parking lot of an Emeryville card club, police said. In his vehicle, officers found a ghost gun near the driver’s seat, according to BPD.

Detectives also searched Robertson’s Oakland home and found another ghost gun, a high-capacity magazine and clothing he had worn during the robbery, according to BPD. On Dec. 15, the DA’s office charged Robertson with armed robbery, carrying a concealed firearm and unlawful firearm activity. His bail was set at $190,000. Robertson is no longer in custody, according to court records line, and he is scheduled for a pretrial hearing Jan. 19. He has entered not-guilty pleas in the case.

Robertson also has an open case in Alameda County from October 2021 where he was charged with brandishing a firearm and making threats, according to court records.

Police found a loaded handgun hidden under the driver’s seat during a recent DUI investigation. Credit: BPD

FELON WITH LOADED GUN Police arrested a felon with a loaded gun, on suspicion of driving under the influence, while investigating a confrontation in a West Berkeley parking lot Dec. 28, authorities report. Police were dispatched just before 1:45 a.m. to the parking lot of a business in the 800 block of Potter Street (near Seventh Street) to help a man who told them a stranger, who appeared to be armed, had ordered him to come over to him.

Instead of complying, the man ran away and called police. As officers got to the scene, the suspect, identified as 43-year-old Demarco Hill Sr. of Vallejo, was driving away. His car, a white 2019 Toyota Camry, “had noticeable front-end damage as though it had been in a recent collision,” BPD said.

Demarco Hill Sr. Credit: BPD

Police stopped the driver and “noticed several signs of intoxication,” BPD said. During a car search, “they found a loaded handgun with its serial number scratched off” that had been hidden beneath the front seat, BPD said. BPD arrested Hill on suspicion of driving under the influence, being a felon in possession of a firearm, carrying a concealed weapon, and several other offenses, BPD said.

On Dec. 29, the DA’s office charged Hill with possession of a firearm by a felon, possession of a loaded firearm, DUI and DUI with a blood alcohol content over 0.08%, as well as a criminal enhancement related to refusing a chemical test, BPD said. Hill is scheduled for a pretrial hearing at Wiley Manuel on Feb. 2, according to court records online, and is no longer in custody. He entered not-guilty pleas.

Braylin Hines. Credit: BPD

FELONY ASSAULT, EVASION CHARGES A felon with a long rap sheet has been charged with attacking a woman by throwing a full beverage can at her head, and fleeing from police in a stolen vehicle along with other crimes, in connection with an investigation that began in Berkeley on Nov. 29.

That day, a woman was walking in the 2400 block of Durant Avenue (near Telegraph Avenue) when a stranger hurled a metal can full of liquid at her face, police said, “in the style of a baseball pitch.” The woman was injured and sought medical treatment. She also called police.

The assailant fled from the area but was caught on video, and police also looked at UCPD arrests to help find the culprit, BPD said. They identified him as 35-year-old Braylin Hines (no address). In early December, BPD secured a warrant for Hines’ arrest.

One day after they got the warrant, police said, Hines stole a black Infiniti in the 2000 block of Berkeley Way, near Martin Luther King Jr. Way: “Officers saw the vehicle shortly after but the Infiniti failed to yield to red lights and sirens when they tried to stop it,” according to court papers. BPD did not pursue the driver. The next day, Dec. 5, an officer spotted Hines still driving the stolen car near Acton Street and Bancroft Way, according to BPD. Again, Hines sped off and managed to evade capture, authorities said.

On Dec. 8, BPD Bike Force officers saw Hines walking in the 2400 block of Bancroft Way (near Telegraph Avenue) and arrested him “after a brief foot chase,” BPD said. During a police interview, according to court papers, Hines “identified himself as the subject in the CCTV footage of the assault and admitted to purposefully attacking the Victim.”

On Dec. 9, the DA’s office charged Hines with assault with a deadly weapon, evading an officer, vehicle theft and possession of stolen property (the Infiniti). He remains in custody with a bail of more than $440,000. According to court records, Hines had been released from custody in connection with a prior conviction and has also been charged with violating the terms of his release by committing new crimes.

On Friday, Hines is scheduled for a preliminary hearing, a sort of mini-trial where a judge decides if there’s enough evidence for a case to proceed to trial. He has prior convictions dating back to 2005 for burglary (multiple cases), vehicle theft, grand theft and firearm possession, according to court records online. Hines has one strike, according to charging documents.

Lorenzo Martinez. Credit: BPD

DV ASSAULT LEADS TO SEVERE INJURIES Police shot “less-lethal” munitions at a man who severely injured a family member on Kains Avenue by beating them with a gun, BPD said. On Nov. 28 just after 11:45 p.m., police were called to the 1600 block of Kains (near Hopkins Street) for a family disturbance involving a firearm: “When officers arrived, they discovered that one of the residents used a firearm to batter another family member in the head and arms inside the home, causing several severe injuries.” The man, later identified as 29-year-old Lorenzo Martinez of Berkeley, barricaded himself inside the home after officers arrived, BPD said.

“Officers trained in crisis intervention and crisis negotiations attempted to convince the suspect to step outside of the residence and surrender,” BPD said. “After about 20 minutes, the suspect stepped into the doorway of the residence but refused to comply.”

Officers then fired foam rounds, also known as non-lethal or less-lethal projectiles, which caused the man to fall to the ground. He was “immediately arrested without further incident,” BPD said. The DA’s office charged Martinez with assault with a deadly weapon, use of a firearm and being a felon in possession of a firearm. Martinez remains in custody, on $250,000 bail, and is scheduled for a pretrial hearing Jan. 31, according to jail records.

RECENT CRIME STATS In the past six months in Berkeley, according to CrimeMapping.com*, there have been at least 114 robberies, 38 sex crimes, 90 weapon-related calls and 85 aggravated assaults. There were at least 103 domestic violence assaults and 198 misdemeanor assaults. On the property crime side, there were also at least 35 arson calls, 508 vehicle thefts and 430 burglaries (277 home burglaries and 153 commercial ones). There were nearly 900 theft calls, including eight thefts from a person (which is similar to a robbery but does not involve force or fear); 303 grand thefts (of property valued over $950); and 571 petty thefts. There were at least 749 auto break-in reports.

Berkeley had at least 50 confirmed gunfire calls in 2021, according to Berkeleyside data. They would likely be reflected within the aggravated assault category, but are not broken out in BPD’s data on CrimeMapping.

* Crime reports for the final week or so of the year were not available online as of publication time.

Learn about crime reports in your neighborhood on CrimeMapping.com. The city of Berkeley also posts crime reports for the last six months on its website. The department also posts 30 days of arrest data online.

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