Authorities discover new details of fatal West Berkeley shooting

Ashish Samaddar/File
The city's third homicide of 2014 occurred in the area of Sea Breeze Market and Deli.

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On Thursday, authorities continued to investigate the city’s third homicide of the year, which left a man dead in West Berkeley on Tuesday evening. His identity has not been released.

Police found the victim near the off ramp of Interstate 80 at the corner of University Avenue and West Frontage Road shortly after they received a disturbance call at approximately 8 p.m. Responding officers located a handgun and numerous spent shell casings at the scene.

Police confirmed Thursday that the victim suffered multiple gunshot wounds and died at the scene. The Alameda County Coroner’s Bureau has not released any information about the victim.

East Bay Regional Park District Police Department is handling the investigation because the murder occurred in its jurisdiction — specifically in the area of Sea Breeze Market and Deli.

According to Sgt. Tyrone Davis of the park’s police department, authorities do not believe the shooting was gang-related. The San Francisco Chronicle reported that gunfire was apparently exchanged between two groups that had planned to meet there.

Davis said that police are still looking into a motive for the shooting and that suspects have not been identified. He said witnesses saw two people fleeing the market on foot going north while a car appeared to be going south.

Police are looking for a white Ford or Chevy pickup truck, possibly with a side step, and a light-silver-colored SUV, possibly a Saturn Vue, according to Davis.

Leann Fay, a Berkeley Marina boat owner, recounted seeing the scene of the shooting the morning after.

“I was riding my bike past the scene, and all I saw was the tape,” Fay said. “I think people feel unsafe. I was talking to a friend, a fellow boat owner, and he was making the connection that Oakland has this, not Berkeley.

Sea Breeze Market and Deli manager Jenny Le said that while the shooting was alarming, she does not believe customers will be turned away or that the market’s business will be hurt.

Le was not in her market the night of the murder, because it closed at 5:30 p.m.

“I’m a little scared,” Le said. “I’ve been here for 10 years — the place has been here for 35 years — but I haven’t seen that before. There are a lot of carjackings every now and then. But the big crime — I don’t see that.”

Le believes the area around the Berkeley Marina is relatively safe and is not concerned for the future of Sea Breeze.

“It seems like it hasn’t affected the business,” she said. “A lot of people are enjoying the park, and since we are managed by the state park, the police drive by often, and we feel we are pretty much safe.”

The fatal shooting came just nine days after a carjacking in the area near Sea Breeze. Bennie Williams, 26, was arrested and charged with carjacking a woman at gunpoint. Williams was also charged with the Oakland murder of 78-year-old Warner Willis, a case unrelated to the carjacking.

Abdul Qasemi, who works at the Berkeley Sportfishing Center, said that while crime in the area sometimes turns customers away, he does not believe the shooting will hurt the shop.

“You know, it’s different,” Qasemi said. “Every day is different. But a lot of cars are broken into here.”

February saw the murder of 54-year-old Sylvan Fuselier, who died from sharp-force injuries to the head and neck that were inflicted by a hatchet. In September, Nancy McClellan, 72, was stabbed during a carjacking attempt in South Berkeley and later died from her injuries Oct. 8 in a local hospital.

In both cases, suspects were arrested, and their cases are now making their way through the court system.

East Bay Regional Park District Police Department requested that those with information pertaining to Tuesday’s fatal shooting call its investigations unit at 510-690-6549 or its dispatch center at 510-881-1833.

Contact Robert Tooke at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @robertono_t.