A massive manhunt in the Berkeley hills Friday afternoon closed Highway 13 along Tunnel Road as officers searched for two men who carjacked a San Ramon man in Oakland.
The case began in Oakland Friday morning, when the San Ramon man was accosted by a pair of gunman, then forced to take them to his home, where the bandits fled in his car after robbing him.
Berkeley Police Officer Andrew Frankel said California Highway Patrol officers spotted the car as it headed back toward Oakland on Highway 24 and started in pursuit. The car chase ended with a wreck near the Highway 13 exit to Berkeley, and the two gunmen fled on foot up Tunnel Road.
“We received word from Berkeley citizens that two suspects were attempting to get into a residence,” said Officer Frankel. Those calls, which came in about 12:30 p.m., sent Berkeley officers to the area, located near the intersection of Tunnel Road and The Uplands.
About the same time as the Berkeley residents called, Berkeley Police received word of the pursuit, ”and we realized that these were probably the two outstanding suspects,” Frankel said.
Within moments, a CHP airplane and an Oakland Police helicopter were hovering over the scene, as officers from Berkeley and several other jurisdictions flooded the area.
“Now it’s a joint operation with Berkeley Police, the CHP, the Contra Costa County Sheriff’s, the San Ramon Police Department and Oakland Police,” Frankel said.
After checking the site of the original call and finding no sign of the two men, officers began an area search.
“There’s no indication of a hostage situation,” said the Berkeley police spokesperson.
One resident said police told her “that there was a kidnapping with somebody shot, and two men are on the run in the hills armed with shotguns.”
No independent confirmation of a shooting was available, and the San Ramon Police spokesperson was unavailable at the time of this posting.
The manhunt triggered a traffic jam on Tunnel Road, with traffic closed by a police roadblock at Claremont Avenue, and it left Berkeley streets short of officers, with one report that only two units were available for other service soon after the search began.
Oakland police spokesman Roland Holmgren said a housekeeper at a house on the 100 block of Tunnel Road called police and said the suspects tried to get inside, but were unable to and fled the area.
The housekeeper told police there were three or four suspects and it appeared they were armed, Holmgren said. No one on Tunnel Road was hurt, according to Holmgren.
He said it would be easy to escape in the area of Tunnel Road because it is hilly with thick vegetation and is relatively uncrowded.
Bay City News contributed to this report.