Young Man Found Shot to Death in South Berkeley

Anybody with information about these killings can contact the Berkeley Homicide Detail at 981-5741. Nate Tabak covers crime. E-mail him at [email protected]

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A man was found shot to death, hidden in some bushes in South Berkeley early Tuesday, hours after neighbors reported hearing a flurry of gunfire in the area, police said yesterday.

The investigation into the death of Mario Dashawn Mills, 20, of Central Berkeley has so far turned up no useful leads, said Berkeley police Officer Mary Kusmiss.

A resident lead police to Mills' body after he saw what he thought were feet between two homes on the 1400 block of Derby Street about 6:30 a.m., Kusmiss said.

"He was so well-concealed in the bushes, just his toes were sticking out," Kusmiss said.

There is nothing to suggest Mills was deliberately placed there, Kusmiss said.

Mills was pronounced dead at the scene. An autopsy confirmed he was shot to death, though police would not detail the nature of the wounds or the bullets that caused them.

Investigators think the homicide is likely connected with the gunfire reported shortly before 11:30 p.m. the night before, although there has been no direct evidence of this, Kusmiss said.

At that time, numerous residents near the area of Derby and Mabel streets called 911 to report hearing a number of gunshots coming from a block away in San Pablo Park.

One person also thought they heard a car speeding west on Derby toward the park.

Eight police officers responded to the area, but could not find any evidence of a shooting or any victims.

Investigators have not established a motive for the killing. Mills had no significant prior record with Berkeley police, Kusmiss said.

Mills was not employed and lived with family in Central Berkeley, Kusmiss said. Family members told police they did not know what brought Mills to the area where he was shot.

About 12 hours after the discovery of Mills' body, officers from the Special Enforcement Unit and Special Investigations Bureau, which deal with vice and narcotics, were giving "special attention" to the area because of the homicide, Kusmiss said.

They stopped a car for a traffic violation near the intersection of Ward Street and Sojourner Truth Court, and found hashish and a stolen handgun inside.

Both occupants were tested for gunshot residue to see if either of them had recently fired a gun, but the tests were negative. Troy Carlos Jefferson, 22, of Fresno was arrested in connection with the contraband and an outstanding arrest warrant.

Mills' death marks the third homicide in Berkeley this year.

Andre Byes, 37, was found shot to death in his Berkeley Hills home March 17.

On Jan. 14, 19-year-old Ronald Easiley was shot and killed in South Berkeley.


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