What if you were sixteen and you were pinned against a car by six assailants who tore at your clothes and shoes and robbed you as their ringleader swung at you with a baseball bat? And later that night, in the police station, you saw the batman pretending to be a victim, so you told the cops the truth and they took him into an investigating room? And then two days later, riding BART, you glanced up and saw him in the same car?
For one Berkeley High School junior, it was a terrifying ride.
It had all started the previous Friday night. Teen party hosts now commonly hire bouncers to forestall crime — because violent crashers, effluent-spewing vandals, and sneak-thieves (who later display their stolen loot on MySpace and/or sell it on Craigslist) are all too typical these days. But, according to the sixteen-year-old, it was a hired bouncer who urged his own pals to attend an El Cerrito fête where he was working September 19. These uninvited undesirables unnerved the host, who ended the party early at 9:30 p.m. Some hundred kids swirled out into the street.
“It was a lovely, lovely, warm summer night with a gorgeous moon,” says Laura Menard, whose son — a friend of that sixteen-year-old — was there. But it turned ugly fast as The Uninvited began seizing wallets, iPods, phones, and shoes. The sixteen-year-old tried to shield a thirteen-year-old. Out from under the ringleader’s shirt came the bat.
Menard’s son was among that night’s dozens of victims. His mom says he told the guys stealing his wallet that with the fourteen bucks inside, they could buy “two trays of nachos at Cancún.” Yet he was the only victim who called 911. Others dissed him for doing so. It was that don’t-snitch code again: fear of retaliation mixed with “this ongoing old-school perception that it’s the police who are the real thugs,” scoffs Menard, a longtime neighborhood-safety advocate. Her son and his pal, who spent the wee hours at a hospital that Friday, are pressing charges. Because some of the assailants are BHS students and alumni, Menard spent an afternoon on campus seeking meetings with administrators. During lunch hour, she was appalled to see several young men wielding — you’ll never guess — baseball bats. Their attire suggested that they were not en route to the nearest nine innings.
Vengeance is someone’s: Menard had a flash of déjà vu upon learning that Dwayne Murphy had been killed by multiple shots to the torso at 63rd and King streets around 3:30 p.m. on September 23. Two summers ago, she arrived home from a stroll to see Murphy — a total stranger who then lived on Sacramento Street — being arrested on her property. At the time, he was charged with murder for a double slaying in Richmond: The victims’ car had been bombarded with gunfire from at least three weapons, reports said then, and it was allegedly a gang-related retaliation for yet another killing in Oakland two days earlier. Clearly those charges didn’t stick, and street justice stepped in.
Ay caramba: Four men seemed up to something odd around 2:30 a.m. in a van parked outside 3239 Kempton Avenue in Oakland, a few blocks east of Broadway, on September 17. After watching one of the men carry what looked like a silvery box from the van and drop it into nearby bushes, a witness called the cops. All four men were soon in custody, with $500 in cash and burglary implements found in the van. In that bush were two cash registers from Grand Avenue’s Los Cantaros Restaurant, containing receipts. Who’d have the heart to rob a place that has mariachis and fresh watermelon juice?
Domain attraction: A had-it-up-to-here
-with-community-policing Oaklander laments: “We don’t have enough officers to patrol the city and we don’t have enough officers to put true monsters in jail.” So, mad as hell and planning to start an online petition, “I just bought the domain Recall MayorDellums.com.”
Hear ye: And a had-it-up-to-here-with-Southside-muggings Berkeleyite reports shooing away a bicyclist who was cruising Shattuck Avenue between 65th and Prince streets on September 13 with a white T-shirt wrapped around his face. Three days later, the shirtfaced cyclist was back, robbing two teens in broad daylight. “I myself,” the resident announces, “have purchased a megaphone for possible use to warn nearby pedestrians in such cases.”
Boom town: After an anonymous caller announced that a bomb would go off at the First Republic Bank construction site at Brookwood Road and Camino Pablo Boulevard in Orinda on September 24, BART K-9 teams and Orinda police rushed to the scene. No explosive devices were found.
Pod people: They’re among robbers’ top targets. But every registered iPod has a unique ID number encoded deep in its memory. Insiders suggest contacting Apple stores to report stolen iPods. That way, if a purloined device is subsequently hooked up to iTunes, Apple is instantly notified, and can then provide local law-enforcement authorities with details about the specific computer to which the iPod was connected — and to whoever’s computer it is.
Greetin’ freak: It was a weird day on Walnut Creek’s Bonanza Street as, on September 17, a shirtless blond man wearing blue sweatpants kept “running up to elderly people and shaking their hands,” the police report reads, “then he would run off again.”