Berkeley Police suspect that a South Berkeley daylight shootout Tuesday and North Oakland murder the night before may be connected to a North Oakland—South Berkeley turf battle officers blame for a flurry of daylight shootings earlier this summer.
“Oakland and Berkeley have been collaborating to share information to see if there are connections,” said BPD Spokesperson Mary Kusmiss. Police so far have found no correlation between the two crimes, she said.
On Tuesday at 12:32 p.m., a gunman jumped from a car at the intersection of Sacramento and Julia Streets and sprayed a dozen bullets at six men standing on the corner across the street. The six took flight, and when the gunman took flight in the car, a second gunman on the other side of Sacramento Street opened fire on the car, firing six rounds.
No one was hit during the shootout, but three bullets struck a Julia Street home.
Police have no suspects.
The crime came less then a day after the murder of Wayne Camper, 18, who was shot at 58th Street and Shattuck Avenue, a few blocks from his home.
The back-to-back acts of violence have drawn comparisons to two shootings in June. On June 17, the day after a Berkeley resident was shot multiple times on the 1600 block of Alcatraz Avenue, an Oakland man was shot on the 1600 block of Russell Street. Neither man suffered life-threatening injuries.
Berkeley police were hesitant to accept claims by Oakland police that those and other shootings in the neighborhoods stemmed from a grudge between rival South Berkeley and North Oakland street factions.
However, the July 30 arrest of a North Oakland resident in the January murder of 19 year-old South Berkeley resident Ronald Easiley turned up new evidence that a turf battle was ongoing this year, Kusmiss said.
Witnesses said the scene of Tuesday’s gun battle on the bustling thoroughfare resembled an urban war zone, with passerby’s ducking behind cars to stay out of the fray.
According to witness reports, the gunman was a passenger in a small, light blue early1990s Honda or Toyota traveling southbound in the inside lane on Sacramento Street. When the car stopped at a pedestrian crosswalk, the gunman leapt out and fired a semi-automatic pistol at six men standing on the corner of Sacramento and Julia Streets. The men scattered as they fled up Julia Street.
After the gunman emptied his round, he got back in the car when a second gunman fired rounds at the car from outside B-Town Dollar Store on the other side of Sacramento Street.
Jeanette Johnson was with her two grandsons in the dollar store when the shooting started. “I took my kids and ran to the back of the store for cover. It went on for about two minutes,” she said.
Berkeley Police responded to Tuesday’s shootout by assigning six additional officers to the neighborhood and stepping up surveillance work. Still some neighbors think the police are not doing enough to squelch the violence.
“That this is happening in broad daylight shows that there is some type of brazen I-don’t-give-a-s--- attitude,” said Kent Brown, who lives on the 1600 block of Julia Street, one block down from the site of Tuesday’s battle. “If this had happened up in the Hills or in Elmwood I think the response would have been different.”
David Washington, who has lived for 30 years in the house that was hit by the stray bullets said he wished police would be more aggressive. “I wish the kids would quit gathering. I’d like to see the cops move them along.”
Kusmiss said that anyone has the right to hang out all day long on a street corner, and that if police didn’t work within the laws they would be vulnerable to civil and criminal liability.