Wednesday, March 09, 2011

A Murder Close to Home

I never considered our old neighborhood in SoMa to be especially dangerous, but crime was a factor when we decided to move away. It was the only place I'd ever lived where I heard gunfire at night, and quality-of-life crimes were rampant — graffiti, people peeing in doorways (or worse), sideshowssmashed windows, raves lasting until 10 a.m. There also was that time police shot a crazed driver. In short, it maybe wasn't an ideal place to raise two small children.

Our neighborhood in Berkeley, by comparison, feels like something out of Norman Rockwell: clean streets, friendly neighbors, kids running up and down the sidewalk shrieking with glee.

So it seems ironic that after just three months living here, our street had a homicide today — something that never happened in the old neighborhood.

(Photo courtesy of Berkeleyside)

When I walked home from BART tonight, I had to do a detour around a cordoned-off block to get home.

The Berkeleyside blog reports:
Police received a report of a loud noise and responded to find a “deceased male in the back yard of a home,” according to Lt. Andrew Greenwood of the Berkeley Police Department. The victim had been shot to death.
Police are not identifying the man at this time and there is no information about a possible suspect, said Lt. Greenwood.
According to one of the Berkeleyside commenters, the victim was a father of two. When you hear these things, you try to reassure yourself that it can't happen to you or your family. The majority of murders are committed by acquaintances, so I take solace in the fact that I don't know any murderers.

Still, it's hard to believe that such a crime occurred so close to where Elliot and his 3-year-old friend from up the street were playing this morning.

One (small) silver lining: It was only the first murder in Berkeley in 2011. That means we're on pace for about five this year, slightly fewer than the six in 2010. Coming from the city, it's quite something to be able to count a municipality's homicides on one hand.