Page One

Carjacking Suspects Elude Manhunt In Berkeley Hills

By Richard Brenneman
Thursday May 29, 2008 - 09:47:00 AM

A massive manhunt scoured the Berkeley hills Friday afternoon as officers closed Highway 13 along Tunnel Road while they searched for the 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 trio of gunmen, then forced to drive them to his home, from which the bandits fled in his car after robbing him. 

Berkeley Police Officer Andrew Frankel said California Highway Patrol officers spotted the stolen Acura TL 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 Sheriffs, the San Ramon Police Department and Oakland police,” Frankel said a half hour after the search began. 

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 at the time. 

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. 

The search was formally suspended at 2:52 p.m. Friday, though Tunnel Road had been opened to traffic about 20 minutes earlier, Frankel said Tuesday. The suspects remain at large.