A 19-year-old from Richmond is in jail this week after police say he repeatedly fired a gun into a residence in South Berkeley during a “suspected narcotics transaction.”
Manolo McKinley has been charged with shooting at an inhabited dwelling, which is a felony, along with several enhancements that could result in a stiffer sentence if he is convicted, according to court papers.
After his arrest, police say McKinley admitted — during a recorded phone call — that he had fired the gun. According to court papers, McKinley also said that “with a good lawyer he shouldn’t do much jail time because he didn’t hurt anyone.”
On Feb. 2, at about 11:05 a.m., police were called to the 1900 block of Fairview Street, just east of Adeline Street, for reports of gunfire. Several bullets had torn through the front door of a small apartment on the block, missing the young man inside but damaging at least one piece of furniture, according to witness reports and evidence observed by Berkeleyside at the scene.
According to court papers, police identified McKinley as a suspect “via video surveillance, witness statements, and assistance from neighboring law enforcement agencies’ automated license plate readers.” Security footage captured both the shooting and the suspect vehicle, a black Toyota Camry, police wrote.
On Feb. 18, Berkeley detectives arrested McKinley as he drove the Camry through El Cerrito, according to charging documents. Detectives then served a search warrant at McKinley’s Richmond home and located “large amounts of suspected marijuana, large amounts of suspected psilocybin mushrooms, a loaded magazine containing 9 live rounds that matched a casing from the shooting, ledgers indicating the sales of narcotics, US currency, and additional evidence indicating the sales of narcotics.”
After police advised him of his right to remain silent, according to court papers, McKinley told police he is the only person who drives the Camry. When police confronted him with evidence from the day of the shooting, McKinley asked for an attorney, police wrote.
The Alameda County district attorney’s office filed charges in the case Tuesday, according to court records.
As of Friday, McKinley remained in custody at Santa Rita Jail with a bail of $100,000. He is scheduled to enter a plea March 9 at East County Hall of Justice in Dublin.
Including Fairview, Berkeley has already had six confirmed incidents of gunfire this year. Two of them left male teenagers wounded but expected to recover.
Gun violence continues to plague Berkeley
Shootings have been on the rise in Berkeley since 2018, according to a recent year-end crime report compiled by the Berkeley Police Department. That year there were 20 shootings, followed by 28 in 2019, 40 in 2020 and 52 in 2021.
Read more about shootings in Berkeley in past Berkeleyside coverage
Only a handful of the incidents in recent years have sent people to the hospital — the bulk of them result in varying degrees of property damage — but the increasing frequency, including during daylight hours near parks and schools, has been alarming to many local residents and officials.
The spike in gun violence in Berkeley has mirrored national trends observed since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. And they can be challenging cases to solve.
“In 2021, BPD’s closure rate for shootings was 38% despite the fact that many incidents are heard only or have few witnesses or leads,” police wrote in the recent crime report. “Forensic and electronic evidence, diligent and detailed investigative efforts, as well as community support sharing information are critical to developing leads and chargeable cases.”
In addition to shootings, illegal firearms have also proliferated in the city. Last year, according to the 2021 crime report, Berkeley police confiscated 118 guns as a result of both patrol operations and investigations by detectives. That represented a 39% increase over the number of firearms seized the prior year.
The proliferation of illegal guns appears to have been driven in part by the rise in “ghost guns,” unserialized firearms, built from kits, that are untraceable.
In 2021, Berkeley police seized 33 ghost guns, compared with the 14 that were confiscated during the prior two years combined, BPD has reported.
The growing prevalence of ghost guns has been observed in Berkeley and across the nation, and has resulted in both homegrown and national efforts designed to crack down on their use.
In addition to a local ghost gun ban authored by Councilmember Terry Taplin, Berkeley officials are also planning to install new security cameras at key intersections this year in an effort to aid police in their investigations into violent crime. The details for that plan are still being hammered out.
The Berkeley City Council is scheduled to discuss the 2021 crime report during a meeting March 8. Tune in to Berkeleyside for continuing coverage.