Update, Oct. 6: Dominique Shantel Walker, a 36-year-old Berkeley woman, was charged Thursday with attempted kidnapping and bothering or molesting a child under 18 years old in Berkeley, according to the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office.
On Sept. 30, Berkeley police got a warrant to arrest Walker on suspicion of three kidnapping attempts, as well as bothering a child in Central Berkeley in August and September. She was taken into custody on Oct. 5.
On Sept. 23, Berkeley police initially reported two Central Berkeley kidnapping attempts on Aug. 29 and Sept. 20. On Thursday, police said their investigation produced information about another kidnapping attempt in the same area on Sept. 14.
Police said Walker approached a 15-year-old boy near Allston Way and Grant Street on Sept. 14 at 6:10 p.m. and tried to get him to enter her vehicle.
Shortly before the kidnapping attempt involving a girl at 6 p.m. on Aug. 29, police said a 14-year-old boy was working in his front yard at 5:30 p.m. in the 2200 block of Jefferson Avenue when Walker approached him and tried to shake his hand.
Walker is in custody at Santa Rita Jail in Dublin.
Walker shares a first and last name with an elected official in Berkeley but is not the same person.
Original story, Sept. 23: Berkeley police are investigating two attempted kidnappings in Central Berkeley in the last month that they believe are connected.
Police described the two separate incidents in a community alert Friday afternoon. They said the first happened on Aug. 29 at about 6 p.m., when a woman driving a white car pulled up next to a 13-year-old girl walking near Allston Way and McKinley Avenue.
The driver tried to persuade the teen to get inside the vehicle, but the girl refused, walked home and told her parents what happened, according to police.
Then, on Sept. 20, police said a 12-year-old boy was scootering down the sidewalk at about 5:30 p.m. on Sacramento Avenue near Addison Street when a car stopped in front of him. A woman exited the car and tried to get the boy to come inside, police said, but he ran away and hid in a nearby driveway.
Police said the woman was still near the sidewalk minutes later when the boy returned, and followed the boy in her vehicle before he ran away.
The vehicle involved in both cases was a newer model white Honda or Toyota sedan, according to police. Officers are asking anyone with information about the case to call the robbery unit at 510-981-5742.
Update, Sept. 28 BUSD Superintendent Enikia Ford Morthel wrote a letter to the district community on Tuesday about the attempted kidnappings:
Dear BUSD Parents and Caregivers,
The Berkeley Police Department has issued this concerning Community Safety Alert regarding two reported attempted kidnapping incidents involving an unknown suspect attempting to lure a young person into their vehicle in Berkeley. The young people involved in these incidents are safe and unharmed.
We have shared this information with BUSD staff and asked them to be on alert and to call 911 if they witness any incident in which an unknown or suspicious vehicle appears to put a student at risk, especially as students arrive to and depart from school each day.
The Berkeley Police Department advises that if a student believes someone may be following them, they should immediately start heading toward the nearest crowded place and call 911 for help.
Please review these other safety practices with your children. When walking to and from school:
- Stay with a group whenever possible. Always walk with at least one friend, two or three is even better.
- If a stranger offers you a ride, say “NO!” and stay far away from their car.
- If a stranger follows you on foot, get away from them as quickly as you can. You can run and yell loudly, “HELP!”
- If a stranger follows you in a car, turn around and go in the other direction.
- Never leave school with a stranger.
- Tell a trusted adult if a stranger is hanging around the school, playground, or other public areas populated by young people, including restrooms.
- Never accept things from a stranger when walking to or from school.
- If a stranger asks you a question, don’t talk to them. Run away.
You can also sign up here to receive safety alerts from the Berkeley Police Department as they are posted.
Enikia Ford Morthel