Gunshot Victim Dies in Hospital, Shooting Under Investigation

Anybody with information about the shooting can call the Berkeley Homicide Detail at 981-5741.

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A San Pablo man died Friday after spending nearly a week on life support in the hospital trying to recover from a gunshot wound to his head.

The man was shot March 23 in South Berkeley following what witnesses said was a craps game gone bad.

The shooting occurred near the intersection of McGee and Russell streets at about 11:30 p.m. during a fight that involved five or six men, said Berkeley police Lt. Cynthia Harris.

The man, 25-year-old Raymond Smith, died at Highland Hospital in Oakland.

The Alameda County Coroner's Office is examining the body but would not disclose any initial findings, said investigator Damon Wilson. Harris said the shooting is under investigation but did not elaborate.

Chris, a nearby resident who saw the incident, said a group of men were playing craps on the street when two of them started fighting.

Patrol officers then responded to a report of fighting, Harris said. Upon arriving, they were directed to a gunshot victim, she said.

Leatrice McWhoreter said she was sound asleep at her McGee Street home when the sound of two gunshots woke her. She went outside and found Smith lying face-down on the pavement in front of her home.

Police said the suspect in the shooting is a black male between 20 and 30 years old, last seen wearing a dark hat. They do not yet know the identity of the shooter.

McWhoreter said she initially believed Smith to be dead because police photographed the body before he was taken to the hospital. She said police also lifted up part of the man's body to photograph it and then let it fall to the pavement.

"They picked him up and dropped him down," McWhoreter said. "It just didn't seem right to me."

Harris, the police department's public information officer, said paramedics were called to the scene immediately but that she had no other information about the incident.

Residents of the South Berkeley neighborhood said they believe the shooting is related to local drug dealing and gambling that has plagued the area.

Jennifer Shortridge, who lives on Russell Street, said middle-aged men driving expensive cars come by the neighborhood in the early morning and evening to buy drugs.

"It's a real shame," Shortridge said, pointing to a bullet hole in her front porch-the result of a previous shooting.

Two months before this latest shooting, two Oakland men were shot to death a half-mile away-near the intersection of 63rd and King streets. The shooting remains unsolved though police have offered a $30,000 reward for information leading to an arrest.


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