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Updated: Rash of Violence at Berkeley High

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Thursday March 18, 2010 - 02:56:00 PM

New details emerged Tuesday about the string of violent incidents that took place in and around Berkeley High School last week. 

A message from Berkeley High Dean of Students Ardarius McDonald on the school e-tree message service last Friday talked about three separate incidents on Wednesday, March 10. 

The first occurred in the MLK Civic Center Park around noon, when a Berkeley High safety officer, while making rounds, was assaulted by one non-student and two Berkeley High students.  

McDonald said that Berkeley police responded and made arrests.  

The safety officer is fine, according to McDonald. 

Berkeley Police Department spokesperson Officer Andrew Frankel said that the safety officer had stopped a student at 11:50 a.m. and was checking his ID, when some of his friends “unsuccessfully tried to take the card from him.” 

One of them, a Berkeley High School student, struck the officer with a closed fist. Another student also tried to take the ID away, at which point the safety officer pushed him back and was struck again. 

Another girl, a non-student also joined in the effort to take the ID away from the safety officer. 

The two minor male students were arrested and booked into the Alameda County Juvenile Hall for battery against a school student 

At 12:45 p.m., a former Berkeley High School student, William Hayes, got into a verbal argument with BHS students and followed them back to campus. She entered the school grounds without permission and brandished a pair of scissors to students and staff. 

Hayes, 21, was detained by safety officers and arrested by Berkeley police for brandishing. 

At approximately 3:40 p.m., a group of non-Berkeley High students were involved in a fight. Safety officers were dispatched to the scene, McDonald’s email said, following which the individuals moved up toward Shattuck Avenue.  

The Berkeley Police Department was also called to the scene. However, Frankel did not have details about this incident. 

McDonald’s email said that a fight which broke out between two groups of Berkeley High students on March 11 escalated in the On Campus Intervention office when a parent and at least one non student arrived.  

McDonald’s email said that the Berkeley Police Department, Berkeley High administrators and safety officers were present at the site to control the situation.  

Frankel said that three separate incidents happened in or around campus that day. 

At 11:50 a.m., a fight involving two groups of students occurred in the school courtyard which separates the south entrance of C Building from the north entrance of the gymnasium. 

Frankel said school staff witnessed the students using weapons, including a collapsible baton and parts of a steering wheel locking device during the fight. 

The staff members identified the students, who they saw swinging and hitting students with “club-type” weapons, Frankel said. 

“It was amazing no one was hurt,” Frankel said, adding that nobody was willing to cooperate or even admit that they were involved. 

Berkeley police arrested two minors who were sent to Juvenile Hall and one adult, 18-year-old Maher Abdullah of Berkeley, who were booked into Berkeley City Jail for assault with a deadly weapon and possession with intent to assault with a deadly weapon. 

At 2 p.m., a student who was involved in the on-campus fight was detained in the OCI office.  

His brother, Raymon Brown, a former Berkeley High School student, entered the campus without authorization and came to the OCI office where he was detained by staff. 

When Brown, 19 saw his little brother detained, he became physically and verbally abusive with Berkeley High School staff, Frankel said.  

Berkeley police was already on campus investigating the earlier fight. Frankel said Brown was pushing the officers to get to his younger brother and was arrested by BPD for being an unauthorized presence in a high school while it was in session and giving a false ID to a peace officer. 

Brown’s brother was also arrested. Both are Berkeley residents. 

The dean’s email said that “instructions to secure the campus by asking all teachers to keep students in the class was a precautionary measure so that students and staff would be clear of any potential danger.”  

McDonald said that Berkeley police and school safety officers responded swiftly and arrested several people.  

“We apologize for any disturbance to your classes but do appreciate all of your support,” his email said.  

Berkeley Unified School District spokesperson Mark Coplan said he learned about the incident from McDonald’s email.  

Coplan said students who “act up” are often sent to the On Campus Intervention office instead of getting suspended.  

At about 4:30 p.m., officers were breaking up a fight on Allston and MLK Jr. Way—the sidewalk adjacent to Berkeley High—when one of the participants tried to walk away, Frankel said.  

When Berkeley High officers stopped him, they found that the individual had a stay away order from the high school.  

The person, a non-student, was arrested for violating a court order.  

Frankel said that none of the individuals involved in the fight were willing to cooperate with the police. 

He said he couldn’t give any specific reason for the sudden rash of incidents that broke out on the Berkeley High campus. 

He said that campus safety officers and Berkeley police were constantly maintaining the same level of awareness and security as before. 

Calls to McDonald, Berkeley High School Resource Officer Mitch Collins and Principal Jim Slemp, who will retire in June, were not returned.