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Standoff, random shooting shake south neighborhood

By Devona Walker, Daily Planet Staff
Wednesday June 12, 2002

Berkeley police surrounded a suspect inside a south Berkeley home for several hours Tuesday after he allegedly robbed a nearby Church’s Chicken at gunpoint. No one was hurt.  

On Monday, blocks away from the San Pablo robbery, a couple walking were shot randomly at close range and taken to the hospital. 

Berkeley police are investigating the two incidents as unrelated crimes, but together they could indicate that a trend of violence is plaguing this usually quite, well-established neighborhood. 

At Church’s on Tuesday a suspect took an undisclosed amount of cash then fled to his home on Valley Street. Officers arrived to find the suspect released his grandmother – the only person believed to be home when the suspect arrived – from the home, but would not come out to face police.  

From about noon to 6:30 p.m. officers held their ground outside the house and barred public entrance to several blocks surrounding it. More than a dozen officers were on the scene, including Lt. Harris and Chief Dash Butler. A police negotiator tried several times to speak with the suspect. 

At approximately 4:30 p.m. the suspect’s mother, flanked by a police negotiator and two uniformed officers, was escorted toward the house to speak with her son. After several minutes the mother was escorted away from the home. 

The mother said she did not know why her son had locked himself inside the home but expressed some comfort that the suspect’s grandmother was OK. 

Neighbor Troy Floyd evacuated his home during the standoff. “My wife called me at work and told me what was going on, and I came home,” Floyd said.  

Floyd did not know the suspect by name but had seen him in the neighborhood. Nothing about the suspect seemed strange, Floyd said. 

Another neighbor, who asked to remain anonymous, said the recent, uncharacteristic violence has shaken some people. The area is predominately occupied by seniors and families. 

“I’ve lived here six years and haven’t seen anything like this,” the neighbor said. “There were some mugging a few weeks ago. Last night there was a shooting and now this. Things are getting to be pretty scary.” 

The neighbor had noticed more police patrolling the area lately, she said. 

The day before yesterday’s standoff ,about 10 p.m., a middle-age couple walking on Bancroft Way and Acton Street were shot at close range by an unidentified suspect. The shooting was not robbery-related and apparently was without a motive, according to police reports. The names of the victims — a married couple who live in the neighborhood — have not been released.  

“They were taking a neighborhood walk in the area, when the suspect faced them and shot them,” said Lt. Cynthia Harris. The female victim was treated and released from Highland Hospital. Her husband is listed in stable condition.  

Investigators are looking for a Latino male wearing dark-colored baggy clothing, about 5 feet 8 inches tall and approximately 18 years old. 

Employees at Church’s described the robbery suspect as 18 years old and of light complexion. He had a mustache and was wearing a beanie at the time of the robbery, witnesses said. 


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