Officer Shot During Chase in West Berkeley

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A Berkeley police officer was shot in the chest by a man he was chasing on foot in West Berkeley early Tuesday morning, police said.

Officer Darren Kacalek, 29, is in stable condition today after being shot once with a handgun around 2:40 a.m. at Fifth and Delaware streets. He was released from Highland Hospital in Oakland late Tuesday afternoon, said his mother, Annette Kacalek, in an interview yesterday. He is expected to fully recover.

Kacalek sustained an open chest wound and a slightly bruised heart from a single bullet that pierced his badge and his bullet-proof vest, his mother said.

"The p' and the o' was gone out of his badge," she said. "From what I understand, it was close range. Obviously this guy is a good shot."

The badge may have saved the officer's life, said Berkeley police Officer Joe Okies.

Police arrested Berkeley resident Howard Street, 36, on suspicion of attempted murder shortly after the shooting. He is being held in city jail and is scheduled to be arraigned tomorrow in Alameda County court.

Officers had originally attempted to stop Street's car for vehicle code violations on University Avenue near the I-80 intersection, a police statement said. Street and another occupant fled eastbound on University. The on-duty officers opted not to pursue the vehicle, a black Ford Mustang, "out of concern for public safety," the statement said.

The officers found Street's car minutes later on Fifth Street, Okies said. Street and the other occupant fled the car when approached by officers.

When officers attempted to stop Street, Street began fighting with the officer, pulled a gun and shot him, Okies said.

Okies did not say whether the officers present fired back.

"The case is a little over 24-hours- old," he said. "As such we are not going into a lot of specifics about the background of the case."

Okies added that a number of possible motives for the crime are being considered, but that police could not disclose any.

Kacalek, a three-year veteran of the police department, received assistance from police from UC Berkeley, Albany, Richmond, the Contra Costa County Sheriff's Department and the California Highway Patrol.

Authorities phoned Kacalek's mother four hours after the incident, she said. She said Kacalek was able to speak with her at that time.

"He's home, and he's doing well," his mother said yesterday.

Street has been previously convicted for being a felon in possession of a firearm, possession of a short-barrel shotgun, auto theft, robbery and drug sales, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. He escaped from police custody in 1990 and 1997, the Chronicle reported.

A U.S. district judge sentenced Street to five years in prison in November 2001 for being a felon in possession of a 9mm semiautomatic handgun and selling ammunition, according to the Chronicle.

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