Police Respond to Violent Events at Berkeley High

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Berkeley High School's safety procedures were tested twice last week in unrelated violent incidents that required Berkeley police to arrest two suspects on campus.

A Berkeley High School junior was arrested during class Wednesday for an alleged robbery, forcing the school to be placed under a lock-down while police searched for the suspect's gun. On Thursday during the school's lunch break, a man wielding a knife chased a Berkeley High School student from Shattuck Avenue onto the campus, where Berkeley police arrested the man, police said.

The man, Jacoby Kirby of Oakland, was offering to tell jokes in exchange for money outside of E-Z Stop Deli when a Berkeley High School sophomore coming out of the deli accepted the offer, said Berkeley police Sgt. Mary Kusmiss.

Kusmiss said the student was dissatisfied with the joke, and when he said he would not pay to hear any more of Kirby's "corny jokes," Kirby began to make derogatory comments about the boy's weight, Kusmiss said.

The argument turned into a pushing match, and during the "hustle," Kirby allegedly punched the boy's chest and pulled out a folding knife, she said.

Kusmiss said Kirby chased the student to the high school, where safety officers and administrators surrounded him.

Berkeley police arrested Kirby on charges of brandishing a knife, possession of a weapon on school grounds and battery.

The attack Thursday followed an alleged theft of an MP3 player by a Berkeley High School junior the day before.

According to a police bulletin, police received a report Wednesday morning of the alleged robbery in Martin Luther King Jr. Civic Center Park.

With the help of the victim, also a Berkeley High School student, police identified the suspect, Christian Sheppard, and arrested him during class. He was taken to Alameda County Juvenile Hall in San Leandro for one count of robbery, Kusmiss said.

The victim said the suspect may have had a semi-automatic pistol with him, and the school was placed on lock-down for about a half hour while police searched for it, said Berkeley Unified School District spokesperson Mark Coplan.

The next day, police found a soft pellet gun in a broken locker in the boys' gym locker room, which they believe could potentially be the weapon, Coplan said.

School officials said they do not think the two violent incidents reflect a problem with school security.

"All you can do when somebody comes running toward the gates is deal with them at that point," Coplan said. "Safety officers...are very organized and very skilled at doing things like lock-downs."


Selina MacLaren covers crime. Contact her at [email protected]

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