He walked through the door and found a heart on the floor. Arriving early on the morning of September 6 for his job as manager of 510 Skateboarding, Nate Alton was aggrieved to find the front window of this popular Telegraph Avenue skateboarding/streetwear emporium smashed. "Then I walked in and I was like, 'Oh, what's that over there? Oh. It's a heart,'" Alton tells Apprehension. "It wasn't really bloody. It was actually pretty clean." The idea that it was human "crossed my mind, because they say your heart's the size of your fist. But then I thought pigs, sheep, and goats probably have hearts that size, too." He asked the arriving cops, who have since confirmed that it was an animal heart, "whether this was the strangest thing they'd ever seen, but they just shook their heads and said, 'This is Berkeley, kid.' It was definitely the strangest thing I've ever seen."
Alton can't fathom any motive for the organ-toss. Others postulated that it was an animal-rights gesture in response to paintings of animals currently displayed in 510's storefront. But the animals in the paintings aren't being harmed. Alton thinks "it's just some student thing. Every year we get all kinds of weird shit thrown at us. Usually it's just fruit splattered on the glass. You know, prank shit. But this one kind of went too far." The pane, which cost more than a thousand bucks to replace, could have been broken by the heart, "if it was frozen." When an older friend said this seemed too extravagant for a mere college prank, "I had to tell her that kids are way crazier these days."
Apparently packing heat, a man claiming to be an undercover cop forced a woman down the stairs from Adeline Street to the Ashby BART station at around 2 p.m. on September 7. In the station, he stole her backpack before fleeing onto a train, according to the real BART PD, who held and searched two trains: "Two suspects were offboarded," reads the report. One was cited for an outstanding warrant and released. Positively identified as the perp by a witness — and on parole for carjacking — the other was swiftly booked for robbery, kidnapping, and impersonating a police officer.
Guess who doesn't give a hoot about the rights of the unborn? At Richmond BART station on September 10, a teen punched a pregnant woman in the stomach and stole her purse before running away with three to five fellow teens. All escaped, according to BART police. The victim was rushed to a hospital.
Blue-State Bad Karma
"Whomever took my sign — please return it," wrote an Oaklander to her neighborhood listserv on September 7. "I would really appreciate it if we could NOT steal things from people's yards — for example my John McCain sign. We've endured notes dropped off on our doorstep, comments from neighbors, and now the taking of our property on our property. The Bay Area is famous for its diversity and acceptance of ideas. [It's] one of the things I love most about it. I love the fact [that] when something controversial comes to town — for example, the Olympic flag — there were stations for all types of protesters. All voices could be heard. We respect everyone else's opinions, thoughts, and property. We're asking for the same in return." Five bucks says the perp doesn't consider it a crime.
Knife After Knife
After Oakland cops arrested Maxwell Park resident Leon "Money Man" Luster on September 2 in connection with several restaurant-takeover robberies, a fellow Maxwell Parker told his neighborhood listserv that one day several years ago his wife snapped some pictures of a young couple she saw fighting big-time: "The female was trying to run the male over with her car. When he saw my wife with her camera, [the male] came after her with a box-cutter. I had to run out into the street with a much bigger knife to ward him off, while my wife retreated into the house. ... The female then came after me." The writer followed his wife into the house, just as "the male re-appeared and started throwing rocks at my parked car, [then] walked up to it and started kicking the hood," then flung rocks at the writer's home, smashing windows, "while I watched helplessly waiting for the OPD to arrive." After a year-plus of interactions with cops and homeowner groups, the writer learned that Luster "was the perp who came after my wife with a box-cutter."
Not Over Yet
One of the restaurants that Luster's posse is suspected of robbing is Cafe Nomad, whose owner Christopher Waters reports that his staff who survived the August 22 heist were, in its immediate aftermath, "stoic and remained busy and preoccupied with other aspects of their lives, but ... are only now starting to have nightmares and extreme fear reactions in the presence of men of any age, height, or color who happen to be wearing hooded sweatshirts." When dealing with crime survivors, Waters urges, "softly brace them for the fact that this process isn't over — not only in their own psyches and outlooks and relationships, but in the real world of criminal prosecution: There is still a photo lineup or a live lineup of suspects to come, and possibly an appearance on the witness stand." Organized not by Waters but by well-wishers, a recent fundraiser at the Nomad "raised $630 for us — not far shy of the $750 that was taken during the robbery. ... My great staff initially refused to accept the funds and asked that I use it to help recoup our business losses. When I insisted, my staff voted to use that $630 to fund a team-building overnight camping retreat for themselves. It will be a much-needed support for their troubled hearts despite their unbroken spirits. In addition, one generous member of our community bought two $200 gift certificates to a local spa — one for each of the two young women who were working at Nomad on the night of the robbery. They are very grateful for the support."
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