Sexual predator at large
Berkeley police are asking for the community’s assistance to apprehend a suspect linked with at least 10 recent sexual assaults south of UC Berkeley’s campus. On Jan. 8, police issued a community bulletin concerning six assaults of college-age women. In each case, the assailant approached the victim from behind, lifted her skirt and tried to penetrate her vagina with his finger. None of the victims was able to provide a description.
Recently, four new instances of assault were reported in the 2300 and 2400 blocks of Piedmont Avenue, between 10 p.m. and 3 a.m. Based on victims’ accounts, police are now looking for a white man in his early 20s, 5’10” tall, of medium build with short, dark wavy hair.
Any victims of sexual assaults who did not report the crime to police may call the Sex Crimes Detail at 981-5735. If the attack just took place or is ongoing, please call BPD dispatch at 981-5900 or 981-5911 from a cellphone.
Should you wish to remain anonymous, call Bay Area Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS
Sexual predator arrested
On Feb. 12, Berkeley police arrested a homeless man tied to one sexual assault in Berkeley and three other such cases in East Bay cities. James Beldin, 46, was arrested on the 1900 block of Parker Street by police officers responding to a report of a prowler peering into the windows of a house. Beldin initially eluded police, who sealed off the street. Eventually, police arrested Beldin without a struggle, acting on information provided by local residents.
Beldin, who was wanted by police after a Feb. 9 sexual assault, had been released from prison a week prior. He was book for peeing, prowling, sexual battery and a parole violation.
Two armed robberies took place north and south of UC Berkeley’s campus last Thursday. The first incident took place between 2:30 and 2:45 p.m. on Dwight Way and Piedmont Avenue. The 22-year-old victim was tripped by two suspects hiding in the bushes as he walked east on Dwight. When he tried to get up, one of the suspects pushed him back to the ground. Another assailant pulled a handgun from his waistband and demanded the victim’s cash. The gunman fled west on Dwight with his accomplice.
Later that evening, a 27-year-old Berkeley man was held up at Ridge Road and Le Roy street by two men. One of the suspects pointed a gun at the victim while a second suspect rifled through the victim’s pockets. The two men fled on foot with a cellphone and cash.
According to Officer Andrew Frankel, the Berkeley police spokesperson, police have noticed an increase in such robberies in the vicinity of UC Berkeley.
The Missouri Lounge, a San Pablo Avenue bar, was held up last Thursday afternoon. Around 4 p.m. a man walked up to the bartender and pulled up his shirt to show his waistband. The bartender believed the suspect had a gun, and emptied the cash register upon his command. After taking the cash, the suspect fled east on Parker Street. Statements were taken from multiple witnesses, but the bartender was alone at the time of the incident.
Such incidents are rare, according to Officer Frankel, but businesses on San Pablo Avenue have been targeted by stickup men before. Frankel said that a string of similar incidents took place at the beginning of 2008, but died out shortly thereafter.
An Oakland man was arrested by police on Saturday afternoon after assaulting a man and a women on Shattuck Avenue and Oregon Street. According to police, Sule Shangshola, 23, of Oakland, attacked a 26-year-old man and a 29-year-old Berkeley woman around 5:30 p.m. after the man jostled him in passing on the street. Shangshola shoved the woman to the ground and punched the man in the head repeatedly until a passer-by intervened. Shangshola fled police who arrived on the scene, but was caught in a foot chase. He is charged with battery and resisting arrest.
Liquor store assault
A 45-year-old Berkeley resident was arrested on Friday night after assaulting the clerk at Marina Liquors on University Avenue. According to police, around 9:30 p.m., Henry Whitmore attacked the liquor store clerk on the sidewalk outside the store, demanding money and cigarettes. When the clerk ran into the store, Whitmore followed and tried to attack the clerk again. After fleeing north on University Avenue, Whitmore was arrested at University and Bonar Street. He is charged with robbery and a probation violation.