Four teenagers were arrested Saturday evening in West Berkeley, and three handguns and a rifle were seized, after the robbery of a customer at Big O Tires, authorities report.
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Police said gunfire broke out during the robbery, damaging two vehicles — including one in the 1100 block of Carleton Street that had been occupied by a woman who was waiting for her daughter “when a bullet was shot through the window,” according to emergency dispatch traffic reviewed by Berkeleyside.
The culprits fled as police responded to the area, and BPD ultimately called in the CHP airplane, drones and two K-9 units to aid in efforts to locate them, police said. BPD does not have those resources itself, in line with longstanding city policy, but is allowed to call them in should circumstances require their use.
Limited information was available over the weekend due to the ongoing investigation, but police said they were initially dispatched to a report of a shooting at Big O Tires, at 2625 San Pablo Ave. (at Carleton Street), just after 5:10 p.m.
The suspects, who wore masks, fled in a getaway car down Carleton Street, police said. One officer saw several of them armed with firearms, according to BPD, and an officer who was east of the area reported hearing four or five gunshots.
The teens ultimately jumped out of their car and ran, according to police.
A BPD officer detained one of the boys on Carleton Street, while the others managed initially to evade capture.
Officers set up a perimeter in the area of Acton Street, Sacramento Street, Carleton and Derby Street and sealed the block.
Preliminary community reports offered conflicting accounts of events. Initially, police were advised that a person had been wounded by gunfire.
Believing several possibly armed suspects were at-large, police said, BPD called for air support from the California Highway Patrol, drones from the Alameda County sheriff’s office and K-9s from Emeryville PD.
“I got some traffic for you,” the CHP air unit told police not long after the search began, according to emergency radio traffic reviewed by Berkeleyside. “I think I have two people sitting in the backyard.”
Sometime prior to 6 p.m., officers in the CHP plane helped police on the ground find two of the teenagers who had hidden in the 1400 block of Carleton. The drone helped locate the other suspect in the 2600 block of Acton Street sometime before 7 p.m., police said.
Police ultimately determined there had been a robbery with gunshots fired but that no one had been wounded.
The boys’ names were not released because they are juveniles.
Police said it would have been difficult to find all four of the teenagers “without the aid of modern technology.”
The investigation is ongoing.
There have been more than 20 confirmed shootings in Berkeley this year, killing two people and wounding at least eight.
Update, July 11: In response to a Berkeleyside inquiry, police said the arrested individuals were three 16-year-olds (from Suisun, Vallejo and Richmond) and a 15-year-old from Hercules. They were arrested on suspicion of multiple violations including robbery, conspiracy and firearms violations.
Featured photo: Emilie Raguso