Shortly before 9 AM a rapid volley of shots rang out on Sacramento Street near Russell. Eyewitnesses report seeing two shooters appear from behind an alley, brandishing guns. A crowd scattered as the shooting took place. Witnesses described the shooters as young black males, possibly teenagers, wearing black hoodies. Police now confirm that one victim--identified by a neighbor as Gary Ferguson--has died. Late this afternoon the word on the street was that the second victim, identified only as "Larry", had also died in the hospital, but Berkeley police have not confirmed this rumor.
Both had sustained severe injuries and were evacuated to hospitals. The victims,described as one youth and one adult, are well known to many in the neighborhood, although their names have not yet been released by police.
Neighbors, who asked that their names be withheld, told the Planet that the victims' first names were Larry and Gary, and that they think Gary Ferguson Jr.is the dead man's name. They say that his father, Gary Ferguson Sr., formerly operated the S.T. E. P. S. drug treatment program. Twitter posts intercepted by this reporter said that "Larry" worked as a barber at Johnson's Barber Shop in the block where the shooting took place.
The shooters were observed fleeing the scene on foot. An extensive police search of the surrounding area was underway until mid-afternoon. Neighbors reported seeing at least 15 police cars and say that police officers armed with rifles were searching for the shooters
Sgt. Mary Kusmiss of the Berkeley Police Department spoke with the Daily Planet early this afternoon confirming that one of the two victims died of his wounds at the hospital.
Late this afternoon Sgt. Kusmiss released this statement:
“ As of 4:20 p.m., City of Berkeley Police Department (BPD) Homicide detectives are continuing their investigation of a double shooting that happen ed this morning at approximately 8:43 a.m. BPD Officers who responded to 911 calls regarding gunfire found two adult men lying on the sidewalk just s outh of 2914 Sacramento Street. Both men had been shot. Detectives do not believe that this is a random shooting. ”On the scene police placed out approximately 50 shell markers. The exact number of rounds fired has not yet been released but appears to be substantial.
“ Berkeley Fire D epartment (BFD) paramedics transported the victim s to a local trauma center where one later died as a result of his wounds. The second victim underwent surgery and is considered stable. ”
“ BPD is not sharing the identities of the victims out of respect for all family members and friends who live near or far who need to be notified. BPD honors this process. In addition, BPD waits for verification of a homicide victim’s identity until it is confirmed by fingerprints taken during the Alameda County Coroner’s autopsy process. ”
“ BPD is urging anyone who may know anything about this homicide to call the BPD Homicide detail at (510) 981-5741 or the 24 hour BPD non emergency number of
(510) 981-5900. If a community member wishes to remain anonymous, he/she is encouraged to call the Bay Area Crimes Stoppers (BACS) at (800)-222-TIPS (8477). Any information may be critical to solving this crime. Sometimes the smallest or seemingly insignificant detail can be the key to arresting the suspect or suspects . ”
“ This is the fifth homicide of the year. No other homicides have occurred on Sacramento Street this year. ”
Police have confirmed that there were two suspects on the scene but cannot confirm whether both or just one fired. The suspects fled first south on Sacramento, and then west, through a neighboring laundromat.
One neighbor who saw the shooters as they ran away told the Planet that "people in this neighborhood are tired of putting up with hoodlums and drug dealers."