by Anneli Rufus
It has finally happened: The victim of an armed robbery in Berkeley has been shot and killed.
Those of us who follow crime reports in Berkeley know that armed robberies, while not frequent, are common on these streets. The UC Police Department issues bulletins about such stickups every other week or so; the Berkeley Police Department has stopped posting its daily crime logs online, but before it stopped posting them, armed robberies were reported about every week. But the sequence of events is the same almost every time: Pedestrian walks along minding his or her own business; robber appears suddenly (having walked up behind victim or head-on into victim or having jumped out of a car that has pulled up alongside victim); robber points gun at victim and threatens to kill victim; victim hands over cash or places it on sidewalk as directed; robber seizes property and departs. Sometimes the robbers sadistically punch or kick or pistol-whip the victims before departing, but don't kill them.
This has changed. An armed-robbery victim was murdered in South Berkeley early this morning. An email just received from BPD Sergeant Mary Kusmiss reads:
"City of Berkeley Police Department Homicide Detectives are investigating an early morning shooting at Adeline and Emerson Streets in South Berkeley that has left one man dead.
"On Sunday morning, at approximately 3:41 a.m., the victim, a 35 year old man who moved to the City of Berkeley in February and his fiancée were walking home after having attended a party. Two male suspects confronted the couple with the intent to commit a robbery. During the robbery, one of the suspects shot the victim. One of the suspects also punched the woman during the crime. She sustained minor physical injuries.
"The suspects got into an older model possible midsize two tone Sport Utility Vehicle (SUV) and fled west bound on Ashby Avenue after the crimes.
"Berkeley Fire Department (BFD) paramedics transported the victim to a local trauma center where he was pronounced dead. BPD will not be releasing the victim’s name out of respect for those family or friends that have yet to learn of his death. 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 in any crime."