Police Blotter

By Richard Brenneman
Friday June 30, 2006

Berkeley experienced an unusual rash of drive-by assaults during a four-day period from June 13-19, starting with paintballs, escalating to a lemon and culminating in a drive-by shooting that left a Brentwood man with a leg wound. Another shooting, this one with no injuries, followed. 


Drive-by paintballer 

A mysterious assailant has been skulking along the streets of Berkeley, potting at hapless pedestrians and motorists with a paintball gun, reports Berkeley police spokesperson Office Ed Galvan. 

“Nobody’s seen who’s doing it,” Galvan said. 

The first report came just before 8 p.m. on June 13, when a woman called police to report that she’d been walking along the 1300 block of University Avenue when she felt a sudden, sharp stinging sensation on her shoulder. 

Looking at the site of her injury, she saw a big red spot. It didn’t take Sherlock Holmes to realize that the weapon had been a paintball, fired by a charge of compressed air. 

The next call came 30 minutes later from a motorist who heard something strike his car near the corner of Solano Avenue and Tulare Street. A further check proved the device to have been yet another paintball. 

The next call came a minute after midnight on June 16, this time from a 30-year-old woman who was struck by a paintball as she walked along Shattuck Avenue near the Carelton Street intersection. 

The fourth and so far final call came at 2:25 that afternoon from a woman who was hit behind the ear as she walked near the Radio Shack store in the 1600 block of University Avenue. 

While an assault by a gelatin capsule filled with paint might not seem all that serious, the nasty little spheres are capable of putting out an eye—which is why paintball players are required to wear protective goggles. 

And should the mysterious paintballer wind up under arrest, there are four open charges of assault with a deadly weapon pending, according to police records. 


Drive-by lemoning 

Another drive-by assailant used a different weapon on June 16, to wit, a lemon, reports Officer Galvan. 

A 47-year-old Berkeley man was standing near his residence in the 3100 block of Telegraph Avenue at just after 11 p.m. when the driver of a passing car abruptly pelted him with a lemon. 

The citrus-struck victim was alert enough to get a look at the driver, whom he recognized as a 17-year-old Richmond resident. Police are investigating. 


Drive-by chaining  

The next drive-by assault took place just before 10 a.m. on June 16, when a Berkeley man was walking along Harrison Street near the corner of Eighth Street in West Berkeley. 

Suddenly, a passenger in the front seat of a passing white and purple Ford van swung a chain at him, breaking the pedestrian’s finger. 


Drive-by shooting 

The most serious of the drive-by attacks was reported at a minute after midnight on June 17. 

Police and paramedics rushed to the 3100 block of Sacramento Street where they found an 18-year-old Brentwood man on the sidewalk, suffering from a gunshot wound to the leg. 

The shooter fired at the man from a moving car, and was last seen turning onto to Fairview Street, said Officer Galvan. No one was able to provide a description of either the shooter or the vehicle. 


Another shooting 

The final drive-by, a shooting, happened in the 1500 block of Prince Street at 2 a.m. on June 19. 

An 18-year-old Oakland woman told police she was sitting in her car when it was struck by two gunshots. 

She could provide no description of the assailant.  

It was in the same block on March 25 when Aderian “Dre” Gaines, 36, was gunned down and a friend injured during a birthday party at the Gaines home. A reputed Oakland gang leader has been charged with the slaying.