Lone Gunman Strikes Again

By Richard Brenneman
Tuesday May 27, 2008 - 04:34:00 PM

The masked takeover bandit dubbed “the Lone Gunman” has pulled off at least two more armed robberies in Berkeley, police announced. 

Though Berkeley Police officer Andrew Frankel had announced on May 7 the arrest by Oakland Police of a “person of interest” in the crime spree, the suspect has pulled off at least four heists in the weeks since, according to a May 22 department crime alert. 

“Takeover bandits” are so named because they invade a business, typically late in the day when cash registers are full, then proceed to rob not only the cash register but any unfortunate customers or clients who happen to be on hand. 

The Lone Gunman’s first known Berkeley robbery happened April 15, when he hit Famous Foam Factory at 2397 San Pablo Ave. The next day came a stickup at Eco Home Improvement, 2619 San Pablo. 

When he struck at Berkeley’s Good Vibrations on the 18th, 30 folks were attending a seminar in the 2504 San Pablo Ave. store. 

Police believe he’s the same masked man who later expanded his operations to strike the Subway sandwich shop at 1105 University Ave., just east of San Pablo, on the 29th and to hit two days later the New Economy Laundry at 3200 Sacramento St. 

Frankel said on May 7 that he is also suspected of at least three similar crimes in Oakland, two at adult bookstores and one at a bicycle shop. 

His latest victims have included the Radio Shack at 1652 University Ave. on the May 12, followed by the robbery of one restaurant—Deafghan Kabob at 1160 University on the 14th—and two cell phone providers, Wave Wireless at 1475 San Pablo on the 16th and Berkeley Wireless at 1955 Ashby on May 20. 

Because of the mask, the police description is vague: “An African-American male, late teens to late 20s, tall, thin build, wearing dark clothing, baseball or other cap, a mask, and armed with a handgun.” 

In the crime alert, police ask anyone spotting the suspect to call 911 immediately—981-5911 from cell phones—and if robbed, to provide the police dispatcher with a suspect description, the direction he took after the robbery and a description of any vehicle he may be using. 

Police also advise business owners to tell employees not to resist, and to consider making cash deposits earlier in the day to lessen potential loses. 

Anyone with information on the crimes should call the department’s Robbery Detail at 981-5742.