Robbery Chase Ends in Tub

By Richard Brenneman
Friday June 22, 2007

Pursuit of a pair of Oakland robbery suspects ended Wednesday in a Berkeley neighborhood with a bullet-punctuated car and foot chase of one man and the arrest of his woman companion, clad only in her birthday suit. 

Berkeley police spokesperson Sgt. Mary Kusmiss said the incident began with the robbery of an Oakland woman Tuesday. 

“She was astute enough to write down the license plate, and Oakland police entered it into their computer system as ‘wanted in connection with an armed robbery’,” said Sgt. Kusmiss. 

Shortly after 11 a.m. Wednesday, Oakland officers spotted the car near the intersection of MacArthur Boulevard and Market Street. 

When the officers attempted to pull the car over, the driver hit the gas and the chase was on. The car, a silver Toyota, headed north toward Berkeley. 

“Oakland and Berkeley use different radios,” said Sgt. Kusmiss, but the Berkeley department has installed Oakland equipment on some of its units assigned to the border area. One of those officers picked up the radio traffic and notified the Berkeley dispatchers, who put the feed out to all Berkeley units. 

“They came into Berkeley on San Pablo Avenue,” said the sergeant, where Berkeley officers joined in the pursuit. 

The vehicular part of the chase ended in the 1600 block of Oregon Street when the Toyota pulled into a private driveway and the two occupants, a man and a woman, headed off in different directions. 

An Oakland officer chased the man, “and he fired at least one round, which did not hit the suspect,” said Sgt. Kusmiss. The runner surrendered moments later. 

The woman headed in a different direction, and managed to make her way into a house in the 2700 block of McGee Ave., where she dashed into the bathroom and took off her clothes, pretending to bathe. 

The alarmed occupant of the house, noting the flurry of police activity through his window, went outside and told police that an intruder occupied his bathroom. 

Police took the woman into custody, clad only in a hastily wrapped towel. 

Under California law, shootings by a police officer are investigated by the jurisdiction in which the shots were fired, so Berkeley investigators were charged with investigating the Oakland officer who fired at the fleeing suspect. 

“Berkeley detectives finished their investigation,” Sgt. Kusmiss said, while Oakland officers took the pair into custody. “It is believed they are responsible for a series of robberies in Oakland.” 

“It was quite something,” said one neighbor. “I was taking out my laundry when I was shooed back into the house by an Oakland officer. There was a helicopter and an Oakland canine unit—just another day in South Berkeley.”