A caller to the Daily Planet on Thursday said she had just sighted the man and his two pit bulls responsible for attacking Oakland resident Jamonie Robinson earlier this month.
The man the tipster saw on the high school campus wore his hair in dreadlocks and he held two of the dogs on a leash.
She flagged down a patrol car and said the police picked up the dog owner a few blocks away at a video store. Employees there recalled seeing a tall man wearing a Rastafarian cap, which would fit Robinson’s description of his assailant.
However, according to Lt. Russell Lopes, this man with two pit bulls already had been interviewed and investigated by homicide detectives and eliminated positively as a suspect.
Thursday’s tip adds to more than 40 tips to the received by the Berkeley Police homicide detail in the last two weeks, said detective Joseph Sanchez.
“This case has generated a lot of community interest,” he said. The patrol division and the animal shelter and the detective division all have been responding to the calls.
Sanchez said police are looking for the suspect and have identified almost every sighting that people report. He said the calls are coming in from all over the Bay Area.
Police have talked to many African-Americans with dreadlocks, he said, and quite a few of them own pit bulls.
He described the search as sensitive and said police are proceeding with caution because they don’t want to harm an innocent dog owner. He said police would show photos of the individuals they interview to the victim.
The community has stepped in to aid in a quick resolution of the case and the department requests people who may have information to call the general telephone number of the department.
Sanchez added that many of the pit bulls are not vicious or dangerous but their reputation is nevertheless in question.
“You can’t fault the dogs for what humans teach them to do,” he said.