Southside Stabbing Leads to Oakland Siege

Anybody with information about this case can contact the Berkeley Homicide Detail at 981-5741.

Nate Tabak covers crime. E-mail him at [email protected].





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OAKLAND-Police are searching for an Oakland man suspected of stabbing a co-worker repeatedly in a Southside hotel parking lot Wednesday afternoon.

Benito Meza-Ortega, 26, could not be found after a tactical police team searched his North Oakland home early yesterday, following a five-hour standoff. Police believe Meza-Ortega may be fleeing to Mexico to seek refuge with family members.

Police said Meza-Ortega, a Hotel Durant employee, stabbed a 29-year-old female co-worker multiple times in the head and upper body at approximately 4:53 pm without warning in the hotel parking lot on Channing Way near Bowditch Street.

An employee tried to stop the attack, but Meza-Ortega assaulted him and continued stabbing the woman, said Berkeley police Lt. Cynthia Harris.

Berkeley fire paramedics took the woman to Highland hospital in Oakland, where she was listed in good condition late Wednesday.

Harris said Meza-Ortega fled the scene before police arrived. Police soon turned their attention to the suspect's Oakland home at 47th and Dover streets about 6:30 p.m.

Police officers spotted Meza-Ortega in the area but were unable to apprehend him.

Nearby residents were evacuated as a heavily-armed Oakland tactical police team assembled, and negotiators urged Meza-Ortega to surrender.

The tactical police team entered the suspect's home shortly after midnight, following a barrage of tear gas, but Meza-Ortega was nowhere to be found.

Harris said it is unclear when and how Meza-Ortega escaped.

While the motive for the stabbing is still under investigation, Harris said, police think Meza-Ortega attacked the woman because he was attracted to her, but she did not feel the same way.

Neighbors of Meza-Ortega said he lived with his brother and has had some emotional problems. Some also said he had trouble socializing with others.

"He acts a little crazy-it's like he has a madness," said neighbor Visents Saldivar through an interpreter.

Another neighbor, who would not give his name, said he had smoked crack cocaine with Meza-Ortega on several occasions, and found the man's behavior to be "pretty odd."

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