Claremont anti-Semite suspect sketched

Wednesday April 17, 2002

The Berkeley Police Department has released a sketch of a man who assaulted two Jewish men who were walking on Claremont Avenue earlier this month. 

Although the victims were dressed in orthodox Jewish clothing and the assault was mentioned in media reports that also referred to anti-Semitic scrawls found at a nearby temple, police say there's nothing to indicate that  

race played a factor in the assault. 

“We do not in any way classify this as a hate crime, based on the description that the victims provided to us,” said Sgt. Kay Lantow. “There was never any reference to race.” 

The incident happened early April 4. The victims were walking along the 2700 block of Claremont Avenue when the suspect approached and asked for a cigarette, Lantow said. 

As one of the men complied with the request, the suspect began punching him in the face. The other man tried to intervene, only to become the target of the attacker's punches. 

While the suspect continued to pummel his second victim, the first managed to get away and run for help. Meanwhile, the suspect continued to beat the second victim, demanding his belongings. 

After the attack, the suspect fled on foot with a man who had been waiting in the shadows. 

According to Lantow, the details of the beating and the circumstances in the case are similar to another post-midnight robbery that happened on the 3000 block of Shattuck Avenue on March 29, and police are looking into whether the assaults are related. 

The suspect is described a black man in his 20s, about 5 feet 8 inches and 160 pounds with a muscular build. At the time of the April 4 assault he was wearing a light-colored hooded jacket -- possibly tan or gray -- and his hair was cut short and styled in twists. 

Anyone with information is asked to contact the Berkeley Police Department's robbery unit at (510) 981-5742