Berkeley police arrested a man who ran a stop sign while dropping off a child at Malcolm X Elementary this week on suspicion of having a loaded handgun and an illegal high-capacity magazine in the car, authorities report.
Berkeley traffic officers had been conducting a grant-funded distracted driving operation on Ashby Avenue when they saw the man run the stop sign, BPD said in a prepared statement. He had a young child in the car with him, BPD said in response to a Berkeleyside inquiry. When the man got to Malcolm X, the child got out of the vehicle and went to school.
BPD stopped the driver, identified as 28-year-old Breon Bolton of Berkeley, outside Malcolm X at Prince and Ellis streets at about 8:30 a.m. Wednesday. A search of Bolton’s vehicle turned up the loaded gun inside a backpack in the backseat area, BPD said. The large-capacity magazine, which holds ammunition for the gun, was also in the backpack, according to police.
BPD said Bolton was driving on a suspended license and that his registration was expired.
Bolton was arrested on suspicion of possession of a firearm near campus, carrying a loaded firearm, carrying a concealed weapon in a vehicle, having a large-capacity magazine and driving on a suspended license. BPD said Bolton also was arrested on an allegation of identity theft in connection with some credit cards found in the vehicle.
Bolton was cited and released, BPD said. As a result, his next court date was unavailable through public records.
The Berkeley Unified School District did not issue a statement about the incident.
During the distracted driving operation, which took place from 6-11 a.m. Wednesday, BPD stopped 29 motorists and issued citations to 17 of them related to improper cellphone use while driving.
The operation was funded by the state Office of Traffic Safety. BPD said officers chose Ashby Avenue as their focus “because it had been identified as one of the corridors with the greatest amount of crashes.”
Four of Berkeley’s traffic fatalities in 2021 — all pedestrians — took place on or near Ashby Avenue, which is a state highway, BPD said in a traffic collision analysis in February.
In June, Chuck Feezel was fatally injured in a hit-and-run crash by the Telegraph Avenue Whole Foods between Ashby and Webster Street. Police are still trying to identify the driver and have offered a $50,000 reward.
In July, Latitia Austin Ahmad sustained fatal injuries when a DoorDash driver struck her on Ashby Avenue west of Shattuck Avenue. Legal action against DoorDash is pending.
In September, Jeffrey Lindsey was found deceased in the median at Ashby near Adeline Street after an apparent hit-and-run crash. Police are still looking for the driver from that incident.
In November, Angel Barrera of Richmond was killed on Ashby near Interstate 80 when a driver struck him. At the time of last report, the driver had not been identified.
In the traffic collision report, police also listed the Berkeley intersections with the most collisions. Three Ashby Avenue intersections top the list: at San Pablo Avenue (14 collisions), Shattuck Avenue (12 collisions) and Martin Luther King Jr. Way (nine collisions).