Bullet holes still pockmark a sidewalk on the 1400 block of Eighth Street in Berkeley, where a high-speed car chase ended in a man being shot and killed by Berkeley police three years ago.
But an early September shooting in the same location that has been linked to several murders in Berkeley and Oakland has further dampened the mood of an otherwise quiet West Berkeley neighborhood.
On the evening of Sept. 8, Berkeley resident Anthony Medearis was shot and killed after an alleged robbery attempt during a game of dice, according to a probable cause declaration from Berkeley Police Department Officer Shan Johnson. Darnell Williams, a 22-year-old Oakland resident, was arrested that evening in connection with the Medearis shooting.
“It’s like we’re cursed, right here in this particular spot,” said Berkeley resident Janet Guastavino. “A lot of people come and go in that apartment building next door. A handful of them have been really friendly with me. And (Medearis) was one of them.”
In a press conference Tuesday, Oakland police announced charges against Williams not only for the killing of Medearis but also for the July death of an 8-year-old Oakland girl, helping piece together a string of homicides that rattled neighborhoods in Berkeley and Oakland.
The fact that Williams’ arrest connected the incidents in the two cities did not surprise Oakland Mayor Jean Quan.
“It’s always happened that way,” Quan said. “Gangs don’t have boundaries.”
In 2009, four members of an Oakland gang killed Charles Davis near the corner of 10th Street and Allston Way in West Berkeley. According to prosecutors, the four were looking for Charles Davis’ brother Jermaine Davis, but when they could not find him, they killed Charles Davis instead.
On July 12, the four were sentenced to life in prison without parole by Alameda County Superior Court in Oakland.
A probable cause declaration from Oakland police Officer Robert Rosin sheds light on the day’s events after the sentencing. In what police termed a “retaliatory shooting,” Jermaine Davis was shot and killed shortly before 7 p.m. on the 1800 block of Derby Street in Berkeley. In retaliation for Jermaine Davis’ death, Williams and Joseph Carroll, who is a cousin of Jermaine Davis, allegedly targeted a man whom police have identified only as “John Doe,” Rosin wrote in the declaration.
According to Rosin’s declaration, Williams and Carroll met at an East Oakland residence and determined the address of Doe’s children and their mother in Oakland’s Dimond neighborhood. Carroll traveled to Antioch and allegedly confronted Doe at a gas station, Rosin wrote. The details of the confrontation, however, remain unclear.
Eight-year-old Alaysha Carradine was sleeping over at her friend’s Dimond neighborhood home. About 11:18 p.m., she answered the doorbell. Multiple shots fired through the doorway killed Carradine and injured her friend, the friend’s brother and the friend’s grandmother, according to police.
Carroll was arrested in Harris County, Texas, in late September and was charged along with Williams in the slaying of Carradine, Oakland police announced in the Tuesday press conference.
Outside the home where Carradine was killed, there are no visible signs of the July confrontation. But to many residents of the neighborhood, memories of the incident remain fresh.
Jamaal Fowler, Carradine’s stepbrother, said he never would have expected an incident in the neighborhood.
“Especially over here, it’s so quiet,” Fowler said. “At least they caught (Williams). (It’s) some type of justice.”
Oakland City Councilmember Libby Schaaf, whose district includes the Dimond neighborhood, said she would like to see more coordination between police and social services.
“These are the kind of murders that have ripple effects,” Schaaf said. “For myself, every time I hear the doorbell ring in my house, I feel fear. It’s again more evidence that we’ve got to intervene in these retaliatory cycles of violence.”
West Berkeley residents also described a peaceful neighborhood caught off guard by violence. Guastavino, who saw Medearis five to six times a week, says the arrest of Williams brings little solace.
“It doesn’t bring (Medearis) back,” Guastavino said. “It was just nice to have someone to smile and wave at.”
Staff writer Tahmina Achekzai contributed to this report.