A brazen Friday night shooting of two young brothers in a troubled south Berkeley neighborhood has renewed calls for a greater police presence there. (The Planet is witholding their names because of their age.)
The first shooting was followed by a second 40 minutes later at 63rd and Herzog streets in North Oakland, less than a block outside the Berkeley city limits. The gravely injured victim there was Poitier McDaniel of Berkeley.
While the news media fo-cused on a campus murder and a hostage standoff in the Berkeley hills, some citizens who live near the intersection of Sacramento and Oregon streets wondered on Tuesday why they couldn’t get more attention from City Hall and police headquarters.
A dispute that erupted on the street about 9:45 p.m. Friday ended in gunfire at Bob’s Liquors on that corner. A 16-year-old was shot three times, said one neighbor who declined to be identified by name. He said he had not been questioned by police although he saw the shooting.
Ayodele Nzinga, the mother of the boys who were the targets of the attack, said the Berkeley police have refused to return her calls about it. Police also did not return the Daily Planet’s calls about the shooting.
Nzinga said two men, both armed, had followed one of her sons into the store and shot the other one when he rushed into the store on hearing his brother’s call for help.
In the second shooting, the 29-year-old McDaniel was shot three times from behind after he and three friends were approached by two men who told them they couldn’t be on the street, said Dana McDaniel, his mother.
“It may be the same two people,” she said.
Getting on-the-record comments in the Sacramento Street shooting has proven difficult, with many neighbors refusing to be quoted by name for fear of possible reprisals.
The youths who were at-tacked in Berkeley were members of a local hip hop group, and Nzinga said both had prior run-ins with police, which she said was the result of growing up in public housing in a neighborhood with many ex-felons.
Another neighbor, Daniel Miller, who works at Spiral Gardens nursery on Sacra-mento just across from the shooting scene on Oregon, said he didn’t see the shooting itself, but came outside moments later.
“Apparently there was an altercation outside,” and a young man ran inside the store, where he was shot, Miller said.
Miller described the injured youth as “a very upstanding fellow” who “seemed like he was putting his life together. He’s been through a lot, but mostly he acted in a pretty noble manner and with a lot of character.”
But some other neighbors said they believed that the youth and his companion had been involved in neighborhood altercations and that at least one had been arrested as the result of a violent incident involving another youth.
“They’ve had problems,” Nzinga said. “But we live in South Berkeley.”
She said the incident began when the two youths, ages 18 and 16, stopped by the store. The 18-year-old went in to buy gum, and when he was leaving “he was accosted by two armed gunmen who pistol-whipped him.”
The youth fled into the store and ran to the back, calling out for his younger brother. When the boy entered the store, he was shot three times, once in the stomach and twice in the sides, she said. One slug bruised his aorta and missed his heart by a quarter-inch.
Nzinga said she had repeatedly called the Berkeley police in hopes of arranging protection for her sons, “but they never call me back.”
The Oakland police did call, she said, and interviewed her because of similarities to another incident in that city.
The surrounding neighborhood has seen a relatively high rate of violence and property crimes over the last six months, according to Berkeley Police figures gleaned from the department’s Community Crime View website. (www.ci.berkeley. ca.us/ContentDisplay.aspx?id=7060).
Over the past six months prior to Friday night’s incident, the area within a thousand feet of the intersection has seen three assaults with a deadly weapon, four robberies, a carjacking, ten residential burglaries, three commercial burglaries, eight drug arrests, a dozen car thefts and 41 loud reports, which most typically are calls reporting gunshots.
“There’s a lot of crime here,” said a neighborhood merchant. “We’ve been trying to get a meeting with the city manager and chief of police but so far nothing’s happened.”
Another merchant said that for a time police had bicycle patrols in Beats 12 and 13, which fall on either side of Sacramento Street. “It works a lot better when the officers know the neighbors,” he said.
“They were dealing drugs up and down the street and we couldn’t get the police to come,” said a merchant.
Miller acknowledged that violence isn’t unusual in the neighborhood. “There’s at least one shooting every six months,” he said. But he also said police typically respond too heavily, and he charged that officers frequently forced young men to lie down while they hold “exotic” weapons on them.
But “after they find a couple of dime bags and make some arrests, then there’s no longer any police presence,” he said.
McDaniel, who lives at the intersection of Mabel Street and Ashby Avenue, said her son had been walking home with three friends at the time of the shooting.
A large man who enjoys working out, he may have been singled out for attack because he is larger than his friends, she said. She said someone had called out to the shooters, “They’re cool, they’re cool” in the seconds before the shots were fired.
“They heard the gun being cocked and that’s when they took off running,” she said. McDaniel said her son was struck by three bullets fired from behind, one severing his femoral artery.
“He bled out on the street, and they brought him back,” she said, after his heart stopped several times.
McDaniel said surgeons had operated on her son several times after the shooting and were undertaking yet another operation Wednesday afternoon in an effort to save his leg.