Window of Marin Avenue resident with bullet hole.

A man who held police at bay for hours on Marin Avenue Monday night was found dead this morning of a self-inflicted gunshot.

The man entered a house into the 1800 block of Marin Avenue around 7:30 pm and started firing shots out into the street, according to residents living on Marin Avenue near The Alameda. One bullet entered a home across the street, narrowly missing one man. He had just come home from work and leaned down to hug his young daughter when he heard a noise.

“I heard this popping sound and felt a whoosh through my hair,” said the man, who asked not to be named. “The bullet went through the window and into our back wall. Had I been standing straight up, I wouldn’t be talking to you.”

Police car on Marin. Photo: ABC News 7.

The bullet had shattered a pane in a front door (see photo above) and lodged in a back wall. Police told the man and his family to hole themselves up in a back room to avoid gunfire. The family spent hours there Monday night. Other neighbors who lived on Marin were not permitted to return to their homes all night.

Police officers later told the man that the shooter had barged into his estranged wife’s home and had briefly held her hostage. He eventually let her go but remained in the house.

Berkeley police called in SWAT teams to assist and spent hours trying to negotiate with the man. When police entered the home around 4:20 am, they found that the man had killed himself, according to KGO News 7.

“We called out our barricaded subject hostage negotiation team and attempted to negotiate with the individual,”  Berkeley Police Sgt. Robert Rittenhouse told KGO 7 News. “Just recently a team entered the house and found who we believe to be our subject suffering from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.”

The name of the suspect has not yet been released.

UPDATE 12:10 pm: Lt. Andrew Greenwood of the Berkeley Police Department issued a media advisory which said police were called to Marin Avenue at 7:36 pm after someone reported something “loud” happening in the 1800 block.  A few minutes later, the first officer on the scene heard two shots fired. Greenwood did not offer any information about whether this was a domestic dispute; he said in a phone conversation that he was restricting his comments to how police were called to the scene. Greenwood also said that Berkeley police did not fire any bullets at the house in which the man had barricaded himself.  There was no exchange of gunfire.

Frances Dinkelspiel

Frances Dinkelspiel (co-founder) is a journalist and author. Her first book, Towers of Gold: How One Jewish Immigrant Named Isaias Hellman Created California,...

Join the Conversation

17 Comments

  1. A safe and secure hot line for Children in troubled and violent homes to call 24 hours a day is listed below here. If you know of anyone trapped in such an environment, pass this number onward to them as one of many possible resources: The Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline 1-800-4-A-CHILD® is dedicated to the prevention of child abuse. Serving the United States, its territories, and Canada, the Hotline is staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week with professional crisis counselors who, through interpreters, can provide assistance in 170 languages. http://www.childhelp.org/

  2. For the current and next generation of children, I want to inquire if today in 2011, there is any place or specific agency or persons locally that any child living in violence could safely run to for real and comprehensive help when living and thus being trapped in a violent family where members are being beaten, threatened or even tortured. Author Richard Rhodes has written extensively on this subject and actual escaped his own biological family of origin by way of his older brother, who took him to the police station after one particular horrid beating as a child and was thus saved by circumstance, fate and shear luck that day many years ago as children then were treated as private property and as such personal family business. He chronicles this and much more in his book titled “A Hole in The Word, An American Boyhood”

  3. He was in my gym class in 9th grade West Campus when he killed his dad…the story at the time was that he wanted to go to a Black Panther meeting and his dad was trying to prevent him from going. Sad ending to a sad story.

  4. I also knew the man who took his life. There is so much history to his tortured life, it is hard to imagine that he spent some of it in happiness. At age 15, he murdered his own father, who had a long history of domestic violence and physical violence against him and his siblings. He had even told his friends that he just “couldn’t take it any longer” and needed to protect his mom and siblings. He ran away after shooting his father. Shortly after, his brother turned himself in as the shooter and was “found dead” in jail, under suspicious circumstances two days later. My friend soon reappeared and turned himself in as the actual murderer of his father. He, with poor legal representation, spent 15 years in prison. He was released and tried to live some sort of normal life. Learning of the suicide from other friends of his, did not surprise me. I am so thankful that no one else was hurt. Again, like other writers, I think we need to focus on domestic violence overall…I believe it was the underlying cause of this story and began many years ago. May he rest in peace now.

  5. Thank you Kenneth for chiming in. My family also knew him from many years ago, and are also very sad to hear about this. Although there are some insightful comments, I feel that all of the speculation on this event means very little unless you knew him.

  6. Sadly I knew the shooter in this tragedy . I am not sad to have known him , for he was a gifted musician that filled the stage with his smile when he was on it . I am saddened that his personal turmoil resulted in the end of his life , the loss of others property , almost the injury or death of others , and the permanent separation between him and his granddaughter that he had been helping to raise . Something obviously went haywire the other evening and the drama he had been living through pushed him over the edge . He had been through so much already that I don’t know how any single event could be pinpointed into the cause of him firing shots . He had a good heart and before we all sit in judgement and look for ways to prevent a repeat in any neighborhood , I hope we can mourn the loss of someone who fit in the day before he snapped and whom I will remember for his conga love . RIP

  7. @John says: Iceland, I’m curious the address of the psychiatrist’s office where this murder happened. A while back I went to a psychiatrist on MLK, I think the place was called Berkeley Therapy Institute. It was an upstairs office. Is this where it happened?

    Briefly, and I do not wish nor desire to dwell on this terrible murder, the exact address was 1748 M. L. King Jr. WY. The perpetrator was easily corralled and yet his attorney was able to convince the jury at trial that it was a ‘crime of passion’ and thus only spent 7 years in San Quentin prison. And as with all things, there are always additional unpleasant aftershocks. They installed a coded security lock on the front door after the murder and I was startled to a full alert at 2 am. when a car arrived with a young light skinned man who then attacked this same newly security lock with a sledge hammer. My sources internally informed me that this was some twisted form of street payback and justice for locking the waiting room office and shutting out the street people who used to wander in there and just sit as well as steal furniture.
    And yes the murder took place upstairs and I have a horrible image in my mind from that day that I struggle to erase. These were the smirks and smiles of the two very old world BPD officers standing out front guarding the crime scene that was roped off with yellow tape. To them it was all somehow all very amusing, however I suspect they were more chagrin as their profession is littered with DV, violent retaliation and worse. Fortunately, as this discussion nation wide begins and a new generation takes over, this is all being taken very seriously now.

  8. Iceland, I’m curious the address of the psychiatrist’s office where this murder happened. A while back I went to a psychiatrist on MLK, I think the place was called Berkeley Therapy Institute. It was an upstairs office. Is this where it happened?

  9. I hope and pray that we here in America begin and thus start a long overdue and desperately needed conversation about men, women, identity, marriage and then this issue of domestic violence. I suspect that the Berkeleyside paper is not the correct forum for such discussions, however this issue is not about to go away nor vanish like a passing cloud. From what little I have read on this dynamic it becomes even more mysterious i.e. somehow, by divorce and thus rejection by the woman figure in an man’s life his identity is stolen from him ( it’s just one formula out of many ). Such men *cannot* just walk away from such a marriage as the women is, in some odd psychological way, holds all of the cards in this mans playing deck and he is fully lost without them while others fall into the category of grudge killers e.g. “If I cannot have you them no one else will” I almost should not be commenting on the subject as it’s so charged and loaded and paradoxically taboo as we have also all decided not to talk about this issue in our culture and personal lives. The sun sets, the moon rises and another day covers up the last as if this all had never ever happened or occurred. In the meantime I am still haunted to this day by the murder of the women directly across the street from me on M.L. King around ’86. Her soon to be ex-husband followed her to her psychiatrists office across the street from me then, got out of his car and started shooting and ran up the staircase and finally kicked in her psychiatrist’s door and shot her dead in broad daylight. One wants to *stop* this at it’s root if that is at all possible. This is not about tenderness and affection, intimacy and touching souls, but something far afield, remote and disconnected from those areas of the heart and soul.

  10. Tracey has the right of it. Let’s focus on the tragedy, and not get sidetracked by the temptation to troll.

  11. Thank you for writing this story, Frances. I am grateful to Berkeleyside for posting this news and for moderatiing the comments. My husband and I saw the police on Marin Ave. as we were out walking last night at 8 p.m. If it weren’t for this article, we would not have heard this news. Berkeleyside is a unique and much-needed source of local stories.

    This is a sad story, to be sure, but on the positive side, the perpetrator’s estranged wife was released (and hopefully was not physically harmed) and the neighbor miraculously escaped the bullet that entered his home as he leaned over to give his daughter a hug. That’s a beautiful image.

  12. This was a horrific incident for all those who lived nearby and for the community of Berkeley as a whole. Emotions are clearly going to run high, but let’s keep our comments relevant to the story and avoid sniping at each other, please.

  13. G- wow, man hater much? Should we also stipulate women should never be allowed to type while menstruating?

  14. Two aspects of this story are horrifying: First, the fact that the neighbor was nearly killed, and second the fact that “the shooter had barged into his estranged wife’s home and had briefly held her hostage.” Yet very few people, the reporter included, acknowledge the horror of that second fact. Agression and violence against a family member is a crime, but our society discounts its seriousness. I feel for the woman who had to endure being held hostage at gunpoint by her former husband.

  15. G, the man who fired the shot would have been deterred by the death penalty. Obviously, you did not read the story.
    He killed himself.

  16. @G So your answer to this man’s violence is to kill?

    I wonder if we have suicide prevention hot lines for people as the mental health of our communities is in shambles.
    A smart national health care plan would certainly reduce to occurrence of these deaths.

  17. Look, I know Berkeley voters are all for gun control, but that view hasn’t gone anywhere.

    We need a more efficient criminal justice system. Murderers should be put to death and men must be discriminated against when it comes to gun purchases – MEN , not women, are the vast majority of mass shooters.

    Let’s get to work.