The man police pulled from the bay at the Berkeley Marina early Monday morning was severely beaten, not shot as originally believed, and still recovering from severe head injuries at Oakland’s Highland Hospital Thursday afternoon, police said.
The victim, identified by friends as Scott Roberts, is a lifelong Berkeley resident who has made his mark as a drummer in local bands and as producer and arranger with hip-hop stars like Snoop Doggy Dogg, E-40 and C-Bo.
“He’s been my friend ever since he was a child and we’re all very sad this has happened to him,” said Bobi Cespedes, a local Afro-Cuban musician who was planning to take Roberts on tour this week as a drummer with her band. “He’s very mellow. He’s a great person and I can’t imagine who would have done this to him.”
According to press accounts, some friends have speculated that Roberts, known as “One Drop Scott” in the music world, was assaulted in a dispute over a woman. But Cespedes and another friend, producer Greg Landau, said they had no idea why he was attacked.
Berkeley Police Department spokesperson Officer Mary Kusmiss said the department was not prepared to make any statement on a motive in the assault and had not identified any suspects. But detectives, she said, “have some leads.”
Police responded Monday to a 2:40 a.m. report of gunshots at the Marina and found the 42-year-old Roberts neck deep in the water near the public boat launch, “conscious but non-responsive,” Kusmiss said.
The report of gun fire, mixed with Roberts’ severe injuries, led to an initial press release that inaccurately labeled the musician the victim of gunshot wounds, Kusmiss said.
The attack, Kusmiss said, was particularly “brutal,” but police cannot say for sure what the weapon may have been. “It was certainly some hard object, but whether it was a bat or a pipe, we don’t know,” she said.
After police officers administered first aid, paramedics took Roberts to Highland Hospital. As of Thursday afternoon, Kusmiss said, he had been taken off ventilation.
Roberts was the leader of a popular 1980’s East Bay funk band called Freaky Executives and also played in a steel drum group called Spirit of Pan, according to Landau.
But “One Drop Scott” has enjoyed his greatest success as a hip-hop producer. “He’s one of the top rap producers on the West Coast,” said Landau.
Roberts, he said, has been able to bring his background in world music to his work as a hip-hop impresario.
“He’s a really creative, very generous, very giving person,” said Landau.