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Robbery spree leaves one dead

By William Inman Daily Planet Staff
Tuesday October 10, 2000

A robbery and shooting spree last week that began in Berkeley ended in Oakland, leaving a 43-year-old Oakland woman dead, Lt. Russell Lopes of the Berkeley Police said. 

“For some reason, they didn’t shoot anyone in Berkeley. Thankfully,” Lopes said. 

Rondell D. Johnson, 19, of Oakland, was formally charged Oct. 5 with 16 felonies – including one count of murder – for his alleged role in the bloody three-hour spree that began in south Berkeley early on the morning of Oct. 3 and ended in Oakland with the murder of Sareth So, a mother of three. 

As of Friday Johnson’s accomplice had not been caught, Lopes said. Johnson was positively identified by several victims and is being held at the Santa Rita jail. 

The rampage began about 2:30 a.m. Oct. 3, with an alleged robbing of a Berkeley man at gunpoint on Oregon Street. Lopes said the pair took clothes and a wallet from the man. 

Then, the two men allegedly stormed inside the Clothes Spin Coin Laundry at 2930 Sacramento St. where police reports say they robbed two customers. 

“One of the suspects urged the other to shoot one of the victims,” Lopes said. “But thankfully, he didn’t. “ 

The two customers were robbed of their money. Another man was robbed outside of the business as he was unloading laundry from his car. The third victim was again robbed of his cash. 

But when Johnson and his accomplice crossed into Oakland, the robberies turned deadly. 

A baker who worked nights was sitting in his car taking a break around 3 a.m., when he was shot and robbed on the 300 block of Adeline Street in Oakland. Lopes said that he was informed that, again, either Johnson or his accomplice was urging the other to shoot the victim. 

Just five minutes before, a man was allegedly shot by one of the two men on the 1100 block of 28th Street. 

Lopes said the Oakland Police believe that the pair then robbed a convenience store. Two more men were robbed and shot a few minutes later. First, a 30 year old was shot around 3:39 a.m., while he was walking in the 5100 block of Bancroft Ave., then a 25 year old was robbed and found with a gunshot wound a little after 4 a.m. in the 2600 block of 77th Ave. 

Johnson apparently struck out alone a few minutes later in the 2200 block of 106th Ave. by allegedly robbing two people who repossess cars. 

Around 4:40 a.m., Sareth So and her husband, Khout Oak, were assembling newspapers for her job as a newspaper carrier for the San Francisco Chronicle outside their home in the 6200 block of Seminary Ave. when they were confronted by Johnson. 

Inside, their three children – ages 17, 16 and 9 – were asleep. Johnson allegedly demanded money from Oak, or he would shoot. Oak hesitated and Johnson shot and killed his wife, according to police reports. 

Lopes said that Johnson still wasn’t finished. Less than 10 minutes later, he chased a man in the 6500 block of Fenham St., but did not shoot. 

The Oakland police finally apprehended Johnson around 9:15 a.m. after he was spotted driving the 1999 Mercury Mystique that he had used in the earlier robberies. 

Police said the car had been stolen from a woman at gunpoint Sept. 30. 

After Lt. Mike Yoell of the Oakland Police stopped Johnson, the suspect threw a set of keys at the officer and allegedly pretended to pull a weapon from his pants pocket. Yoell fired a round at Johnson and missed and Johnson then surrendered.