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Weekend shooting was not an isolated incident

Osman Vincent
Saturday July 13, 2002

To the Editor: 

The Berkeley Daily Planet has written up the Crucible party incident as an isolated event in Berkeley. This is incorrect.  

Berkeley Black Repertory Group Theater (BRG) on Adeline rented their facility out to Eugene Cockerman twice, in July of 1998 and October of 1998. At both times, events got out of control.  

During the second incident, there were over 400 people in the building with a legal capacity of 250 when a fire alarm was pulled for fun. There were another 400 people outside still trying to get in. During the evacuation, someone inside yelled: 

“He's got a gun,” which caused panic inside.  

Cockerman rented the Francis Albrier Park Recreation Center in January of 1999. The doorman was pistol whipped which resulted in a 2’’ laceration. There were subsequently three different volleys of gunfire.  

Subsequently, Cockerman rented the Thousands Oaks Masonic Temple. One gunfire death occurred at that event.  

All these events were presented to the renting facility as medium sized semi-private party.  

In fact, local high schools are plastered with notices of the event. Cockerman jams as many people in as he can get away with for the cover charge (typically $15 to $20 a head). He then pleads ignorance when a thousand people show up and leaves others to deal with the consequences. 

All of the cited events have required extensive police intervention with many backup officers from adjacent jurisdictions. Other police departments may bill Berkeley for these services, hardly desirable in time of budget cuts. But worse, areas from Lake Meritt to Richmond are without police protection for the several hours of the incidents. 

In May of 1999, the Berkeley Police Department was preparing a letter to send out to all facilities warning them to not rent their facility out to Cockerman . I don't know if this was ever done.  

Approximately two years ago, the City of Berkeley attempted to prevent such future out-of-control events with an ordinance written by the City Attorney's office, and processed through the Recreation Commission, and the Planning Commission. Other cities that I checked with several years ago claimed to have much stricter requirements for special events and do not have events which get out of control.  


Osman Vincent