South Berkeley Shootings Prompt Increased Patrols

By Richard Brenneman
Friday July 06, 2007

Spurred by calls from anxious South Berkeley residents, Police Chief Douglas Hambleton sent a letter to neighborhood associations promising additional patrols in the area. 

“In the past several weeks, there have been several shootings and robberies that have a lot of people justifiably nervous,” wrote the chief. 

“I think everybody’s been getting calls—councilmembers, the mayor and our office,” said Mary Kay Clunies-Ross, a member of the staff of City Manager Phil Kamlarz. 

“We take shootings in Berkeley very seriously, and any string like this causes us to evaluate our short- and long-term responses,” wrote the chief. 

“Since so much urban violence is drug-related, our Special Enforcement Unit detectives and the Drug Task Force officers spend most of their time in South Berkeley,” Hambleton wrote. 

In addition to their regular crime-fighting efforts, the chief wrote, “in response to these shootings and other incidents, BPD will be adding additional patrols in the area.” 

Sgt. Mary Kusmiss, BPD’s public information officer, said the extra staffing stems in part from a string of shootings that began with two incidents on June 17, including one in the 1500 block of Alcatraz Street during Juneteenth celebrations. 

In that incident, a 16-year-old was struck in the leg by shots fired shortly before 3 p.m.  

A second shooting incident happened just after 6 p.m. near the intersection of Alcatraz and Sacramento streets. No victims were reported, nor any damage to property. Though the shooter had gone before police arrived, officers found shell casings at the scene. 

The next shooting happened on the 20th, when an unknown shooter fired into the Over 60 Health Clinic at 3260 Sacramento St. at 3:55 p.m. No one was injured in the attack. 

On June 27, a shooter located in the parking area at 1615 Russell St. fired a weapon, with shots traveling toward an occupied dwelling at 1620 Oregon St. The bullets shattered the windows on a black Nissan Maxima, and neighbors said several rounds hit the home. 

The following even at 8:30 p.m. a gunman fired a sustained volley at two men standing on the corner of Harper and Prince streets, striking both.  

A 27-year-old was struck by a grazing shot in his left biceps and declined treatment beyond first aid administered by a police officer at the scene. The second victim, a 20-year-old, was struck with a grazing wound to his inner left thigh and was treated and released at a local emergency room. 

“Approximately 15 to 20 rounds were fired, and at least nine rounds struck a home at 1829 Prince St.,” said Kusmiss. No one in the house was injured. 

While no suspects have been arrested in any of the shooting, Berkeley homicide detectives believe that at least the last two shootings were connected, said the officer. 

“We have not had a string of shootings like this for some time,” said Kusmiss. “We recognize the concerns of the neighbors, particularly since these shootings have been happening during daylight when there are people out and about.” 

On the brighter side, there were no incidents on the Fourth of July, beyond the usual reports of illegal fireworks and the larger-than-usual crowd which gathered for the city’s fireworks celebrations. 

“I talked to the officers and some of the photographers, who estimate that we had about one-and-a-half times the usual crowd,” Kusmiss said. “That may be because Oakland canceled their fireworks show this year.”