An assortment of flowers and balloons stand in stark contrast to the bullet hole-ridden screen door where just days before a storm of bullets pierced the building and the body of 32-year-old Kenneth Warren as he stood on the porch of the South Berkeley residence.
Warren became the city of Berkeley’s first homicide of 2012 when he was found with numerous gunshot wounds at the corner of Shattuck Avenue and Emerson Street just before 7 p.m, according to police.
According to a friend of Warren who would not provide his name for fear of retribution, Warren, a resident of Hercules, regularly stopped by the home after leaving work at his uncle’s barber shop, which is attached to the residence. As he stood on the porch Thursday evening, unknown assailants opened fire before anyone could answer the door, leaving Warren critically wounded at the scene.
“I heard him screaming, banging on the door,” the friend said. “But I can’t go to the door because all these bullets are coming at us so I grab my girl and just throw (ourselves) on the floor.”
Warren’s friend said that he and his girlfriend then crawled through the house out the back door and into the backyard to avoid the oncoming bullets. When the two made their way to the front of the house, they found Warren lying on the porch in front of the door, according to the friend.
Shortly after, Warren was transported to Highland Hospital in Oakland where he was pronounced dead, according to Berkeley police Lt. Dave Frankel.
As of Sunday, Frankel said detectives were actively investigating the case but that police were not currently providing any suspect descriptions. He would not say whether anyone had been arrested in connection with the shooting, though he said detectives are actively pursuing leads.
Tags on the walls left by the forensics’ team at the crime scene indicated more than 80 bullets were fired. A hole in the living room wall indicated one bullet traveled through the living room and straight into the kitchen, where the home’s residents later discovered a bullet fragment behind the stove — inches away from the stove’s gas line.
Don’s Headquarters, the barbershop where Warren worked, has been in the neighborhood for 41 years, according neighbors. It was closed Friday though friends and neighbors came with flowers and candles to pay tribute to the person they referred to as “Jr.” and “Kenny.”
Becky O’Malley, who has operated a business next door to the barbershop for eight years, described Don’s Headquarters as a neighborhood institution.
“My son-in-law used to get his hair cut there,” O’Malley said. “He said people would go there just to listen to them talk. They always had the TV on to CNN and always had political arguments going on.”