B-Tech Senior Surrenders to Police Two Days After Shooting

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Thursday May 22, 2008 - 09:44:00 AM

A Berkeley Tech senior turned himself in to the Berkeley Police Department (BPD) Saturday and is being held at the Alameda County Juvenile Hall for shooting a fellow student, authorities said. 

BPD spokesperson Andrew Frankel said the student would be arraigned in Juvenile Court after homicide detectives reviewed his case. 

Police could not give a specific time when the B-Tech senior turned himself in to police or if he had been interviewed regarding the crime. 

BPD spokesperson Sgt. Mary Kusmiss said a 911 call to the Berkeley police around 3:12 p.m. Thursday reported a young man with a gun at the corner of Martin Luther King and Dwight Way. 

Minutes later another caller reported a young man in the same area firing a gun into the ground, Kusmiss said. 

When officers rushed to MLK and Dwight, they did not find trace of any victims, suspects or evidence of a crime scene. 

“Moments later, a woman driving a car flagged down a BPD officer on Channing Way just west of Shattuck Ave.,” Kusmiss said. 

The woman, who identified herself as a teacher at Berkeley Technology Academy (B-Tech), pointed to a 17-year-old boy in the passenger seat who had several gunshot wounds in his abdomen. 

“The woman said the young man had flagged her down,” Kusmiss said. 

“Apparently, after the young man was shot, he recognized her as one of his B-Tech teachers. He got into her car and said he needed help.” 

The B-Tech teacher was driving the student to the hospital when she came across the police officers, Kusmiss said. 

“The young man was in a state of shock and was not able to offer too many details to the police officers,” she said. 

Kusmiss said she could not disclose the name of the B-Tech teacher since she was involved in a violent crime. She said the student, a junior, underwent surgery and his injuries appear to be non-life-threatening. 

Meanwhile, community members and police officers had carried out a neighborhood canvas and search for the suspect moments after the shooting, police said. 

“Area residents told officers that they saw a young man fleeing over some fences in the 1800 block of Dwight Way,” Kusmiss said. 

The B-Tech community is still under shock from the incident, which happened right after school let out. B-Tech principal Victor Diaz said the fight might have occurred over a three-week-old dispute between the students. 

“I know that there had been some words exchanged outside the school between the two about three weeks ago,” Diaz said. “School staff was trying to talk with them about it and engage in some mediation. The sense was that even though we were talking and working to bring the families together, there was tension between them. On Thursday they both walked right by my office and we made eye contact. Ten to 20 minutes later I got a call from one of my teachers that one of them had been shot.” 

Diaz said he ran out to find the students when he got another call informing him that the junior had flagged down a teacher who was driving him to Highland Hospital. 

“This kid [the senior] just passed the exit exam,” he said. “He has a really good job and is very responsible. He is also a mentor for a couple of different organizations.” 

Diaz said the junior who was shot was a newcomer to the B-Tech community and had just started to open up to school staff.  

“We have to assume that the senior brought the gun into school and hid it somewhere,” he said. 

The B-Tech community held a meeting Friday morning to discuss the incident. 

District Superintendent Bill Huyett sent a school safety officer to the school. The City of Berkeley's health department also sent counselors to B-Tech Friday to support staff and students. 

“We know that the kid who shot the junior is not involved with any gang or drug-related activity,” Diaz said. “We are all very sad and disappointed it happened. At the meeting, a number of kids expressed their encounters with violence. Sadly, it was a very high number of students.”