Two Shot as Local Party Turns Violent

Anyone with information about the shootings can contact the Berkeley Homicide Detail at 981-5741.

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What began as a brawl at a South Berkeley hip-hop dance party ended in chaos after gunfire erupted inside and around the overcrowded event late Saturday and early Sunday, wounding two.

Berkeley police had arrived on the scene at about 10 p.m. Saturday to shut down the party at The Crucible arts center, whose crowd had swelled to more than 1,000 from the agreed 300-person limit, when shots were fired inside the club.

Police did not find the source of the shooting.

Witnesses said fighting started inside the club, followed by several gunshots. As people fled the party, about five shots were heard outside.

"After the shooting we just rushed out," said Tianna Jackson, who attended the dance.

Duwane Fields, 23, and an undisclosed juvenile were shot as they left the dance at about 12:30 a.m., Berkeley police Lt. Cynthia Harris said. Fields was struck once in the left buttock and the juvenile's leg was grazed.

Paramedics took Fields to Highland hospital in Oakland. The juvenile refused treatment.

The victims told police they had "no idea" who shot them or why, Harris said.

As throngs of partygoers spewed onto the streets near San Pablo and Ashby avenues, officers from eight Bay Area police agencies-including Oakland, California Highway Patrol, Fremont and UC-raced to the scene.

Berkeley fire paramedics deviated from their standard protocol and entered an unsecured scene to treat the victims.

Police closed nearby exits off Interstate 80 and several blocks of Ashby Avenue as the situation intensified.

Several hundred people converged at a gas station on San Pablo and Ashby avenues, where several gun shots were reported. The crowd dispersed after about 20 police officers rushed the group.

At the same time, scores of partygoers made their way to Emeryville and engaged in sideshow car races, Emeryville police Sgt. Lou Collier said. The additional racers compounded an existing problem for the city.

"It's something we're usually able to handle," Collier said.

Teams of police officers continued to patrol South Berkeley and parts of Oakland and Emeryville to dissipate the crowds.

The sideshow was under control by about 2 a.m. Sunday, Harris said.

Operators of The Crucible said an unaffiliated promoter held the dance, but did not adhere to a contract.

"On occasion we do open our doors to members of the community for small private events," said Kate Rutter, Crucible spokesperson. "We have a pretty stringent usage policy."

The event was supposed to be a private alcohol-free party, with no more than 300 in attendance, Rutter said.

Rutter said the organizer claimed the dance was a private fundraiser for the Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity. But operators have since discovered that the promoter lied about his name and falsified documents, she said.

"(The promoter) misrepresented himself," Rutter said.

She said facility operators tried to shut down the overcrowded dance earlier that evening, but the promoter's security guards refused to cooperate. The center then asked for police to help.

Rutter said the weekend incident is the first time events at The Crucible turned violent.

The investigation into the shooting is ongoing, but no suspects have been identified.


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