Two fugitives wanted in connection with a Berkeley homicide remained at large Sunday after leading police on a six-minute, high-speed pursuit, ending with a horrific crash on an Oakland street that killed a driver and a pedestrian.
A day after the events, Oakland residents recalled a chaotic 12 hours after the crash, with the suspects jumping backyard fences, heavily armed SWAT team members combing the area, a helicopter circling, and residents forced to hunker down inside their homes.
"The police started coming around with a bullhorn," said Julie Stevens, a six-year resident of the neighborhood, who was walking her dog Saturday evening when she heard the crash. "It was like martial law."
As Berkeley and Oakland police swarmed the neighborhood, Stevens was unable to return to her home. She took refuge in a neighbor's house on Dover Street. With pork chops baking in her oven, police eventually allowed her to return, searching the house before they escorted her and her partner back in.
The events started Saturday at 6:34 p.m. when police said the suspects opened fire with assault weapons on a 25-year-old Berkeley man at 10th and Allston streets in West Berkeley. The victim was hit multiple times and paramedics pronounced him dead at the scene, police said.
A Berkeley police officer spotted a Cadillac fleeing the scene and chased the car through South Berkeley and into Oakland. The suspects were traveling at a high rate of speed eastbound on Aileen Street in Oakland when they ran through a stop sign, hitting a Mazda heading southbound on Martin Luther King Jr. Way, near Children's Hospital Oakland, police said. The crash caused the Mazda to strike a pedestrian on the sidewalk in front of the hospital's research institute.
The driver of the Mazda, a 26-year-old Sunnyvale resident, was pronounced dead at the scene. The pedestrian, a 41-year-old Berkeley man, was taken to Highland Hospital, where he later died, police said. Berkeley police have asked that the names of the crash victims and shooting victim not be released pending the conclusion of the investigation, an Alameda County coroner's official said late Sunday. Autopsies were scheduled for today.
The Cadillac also hit a Lexus heading northbound on Martin Luther King Jr. Way. The driver of that car, along with a passenger, were taken to Children's Hospital with injuries that were not life-threatening.
Police arrested two suspects in the car, and said one of those in custody is a 22-year-old man from San Leandro. They also said they found two assault rifles in the Cadillac.
Police declined to identify the two suspects in custody, saying the case is under investigation. Each man was arrested on suspicion of three homicides, said Andrew Frankel, Berkeley police spokesman. The case will be presented to the Alameda County District Attorney's Office this week for a review of criminal charges.
On Sunday, residents from the Oakland neighborhood debated about the police chase.
"I think at a certain point, they probably should have come up with a different strategy," Joanne Bussiere said. "Two innocent people are dead."
Terrill Orme, a barber at the A-Game Cuts Barbershop, just feet from where the crash took place, said he was saddened by what happened but did not question the department's tactics.
"I know a lot of people don't think police should chase them, but you're supposed to chase somebody who just killed somebody," Orme said.
"If that was me that got murdered, I'd want police chasing them down. I wish people wouldn't kill people, basically."
Frankel said the community's thoughts and prayers are with the victims.
"This was a traumatic and tragic event for all involved and we are looking for the community's help in catching the two outstanding suspects," he said.
Berkeley's pursuit policy is not as liberal as other cities, Frankel said.
"When it comes to pursuing those involved in serious and violent felonies — and they don't get more serious or violent than this — we are authorized to pursue," he said.
The pursuit from West Berkeley to North Oakland lasted six minutes, he said.
After a 2004 Berkeley police chase, a man with a history of drunken driving was convicted of second-degree murder for hitting and killing another driver as he fled from police at 75 miles per hour along San Pablo Avenue.
In that incident, an officer had noticed the man's erratic driving. When prompted to pull over, the man instead sped through several red lights, prompting a chase.
Saturday night's crash and subsequent search left the neighborhood around the hospital in a near state of siege.
Knekol Brown was walking from a Martin Luther King Jr. Way convenience store with her young daughters and nieces when two men came running through the group of children on 56th street.
"He was running like he had a gun on him," Brown said. "I was scared, I really was, for my kids."
The men fled behind the house, and police arrived soon after, ordering everyone into their homes in a lockdown that would last throughout the night.
As an elderly woman came out of her home, Brown said police, with guns drawn, yelled at her to go back into the house. "They scared the mess out of her," Brown said. "She's all right, though."
Authorities cordoned off a four-square-block area near the crash about 10:45 p.m. and began a methodical search. Officers, with the aid of police dogs and a helicopter, knocked on doors and searched backyards. The search was called off at 10 a.m. Sunday when neither man was found.
Stevens, back from walking her dog, said she managed to fall asleep, but woke up again to a commotion outside about 3:30 a.m.
"You'd look outside and there are guys with night-vision goggles and assault weapons looking around our yard."
Staff writers Matthias Gafni, Dave Boitano, Sean Maher and Kristen Bender contributed to this story.
Berkeley police are asking for the public's help with their investigation. Anyone who may have information is asked to call Berkeley police homicide detail at 510-981-5741 or 510-981-5900. Crimestoppers is offering a $2,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the suspects and can be reached at 800-222-TIPS. All Crimestoppers calls are confidential.