Shooting marks Berkeley’s first homicide of the year

homicide.GETHERS
Michael Gethers/Staff

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In an ongoing investigation of the city’s first homicide of the year, Berkeley Police Department has identified the victim of Monday’s shooting as Zontee Jones, who was shot and killed near the intersection of San Pablo Avenue and Delaware Street.

Police responded to the scene at approximately 11:08 a.m., and the victim was then transported by Albany Fire Department to a local hospital, where he was later pronounced dead, according to a press release from Berkeley Police Department. Delaware Street was then closed for approximately six hours as Berkeley police processed the scene. This homicide mirrors a case from last January. The case, which was the first homicide of 2012 for the city, was also a gun-related incident.

Prior to hearing two gunshots, witnesses said they heard loud yelling around 11 a.m. A black male was then seen running down the street before collapsing in front of the Delaware Apartments complex.

“There was a big commotion down the street, and I went up there, and the boy was on the ground lying on his back, bleeding profusely from his nose and mouth,” said Berkeley resident Nick Lynch. “It looked like he had been shot through his heart and lungs.”

After the shooting, a gold-colored sedan was seen driving up to the victim’s body and idling next to it for a while before driving away from the scene, according to Berkeley resident Vince Dee.

Dee, who lives across from the location of the shooting, was able to record the incident with security cameras installed outside his home.

There was a group of young people gathered around the gold sedan a few minutes before the shooting occurred, according to Dee. In the security footage, Dee said the victim could be seen running away from the car toward San Pablo Avenue before collapsing.

The car then drove up alongside the victim’s body, and the driver left the vehicle to check on the victim, Dee continued.

“The driver got out and stood there for a couple of minutes,” Dee said. “At some point, the driver backed the car away from the body and disappeared outside of the camera’s range.”

Lynch said the driver was cradling the victim’s head before getting up and moving the car away.

“To see somebody in the process of dying from a relatively random violent crime so unexpectedly, right in front of my house — it’s haunting and disturbing,” Lynch said.

Berkeley Police Department investigators “have been working on this case virtually nonstop since Monday morning when it occurred,” according to Officer Stephanie Polizziani.

Anyone with information regarding the incident should contact homicide detectives at 510-981-5741.

Andy Nguyen is the lead crime reporter. Contact him at [email protected].

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