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Wednesday March 07, 2001

A man backing out his driveway was attacked by a knife-wielding assailant Friday when he got out of the car to check a strange sound from the engine, police said.  

In the struggle the assailant succeeded in pulling the man from his car while his wife, who was in the passenger seat, got out of the car, police said. The suspect then allegedly drove off along the 2500 block of San Pablo, accelerating so rapidly that he lost control of the car and collided with a bus bench 50 yards from the victim’s home. 

A number of witnesses to the crash saw the alleged suspect flee the disabled car and immediately called police with cell phones. Based on the descriptions given by witnesses police later arrested Clarence Sparks of Oakland several blocks away, said Berkeley Police Lt. Russell Lopes.  

Sparks is in police custody. The victim was treated for a minor stab wound to the chest on the scene and declined further medical attention, Lopes said. 


A man Berkeley police suspect of five armed robberies in the last several months struck again Friday night, getting away from the Shell Station at 1250 University Ave. with about $200 in cash. 

About 7:30 p.m. two attendants at the Shell Station minimart heard the sound of an automatic weapon being loaded and looked up to see a man with a brown paper bag demanding money, said Berkeley Police Lt. Russell Lopes. 

“Give me all the money. This gun is real,” the man said, Lopes said. 

“We’re confident that this is the same guy,” Lopes said, referring to three recent armed robberies of gas stations along University Avenue and the robbery of a Wells Fargo Bank inside an Andronico’s Market last month. 


Two Union Pacific locomotives northbound along tracks in west Berkeley struck and killed a man sitting in the middle of the tracks Sunday night, said Union Pacific spokesman Mike Furtney. 

Furtney said two locomotives were attached to one another and traveling at about 70 miles per hour when engineers notice two men sitting in the tracks. They blew the locomotives whistle and began braking the cars, Furtney said, but they were unable to stop in time. One of the men jumped clear of the tracks but the other made no effort to escape, the spokesperson said. 

The victim had no papers or identification of any kind, and Union Pacific Police have been unable to locate his companion, Furtney said.  

The coroner’s office will try to identify the victim using fingerprints. Furtney said a number of homeless individuals are known to congregate in the area where the accident occurred. 


— Compiled by Ben Lumpkin, Daily Planet staff