EL CERRITO (KPIX) — The El Cerrito del Norte and Richmond BART stations were closed for about 8 hours on Saturday, while BART police detectives investigated an officer-involved shooting that left a young adult male with “life-threatening injuries,” BART Police Chief Ed Alvarez said.
Officers were called at about 2 p.m. for a report of a domestic disturbance on a northbound train involving a young man and a young woman, Alvarez said during a news conference outside the El Cerrito del Norte station.
The two were having an argument, Alvarez said, and the caller to police said she saw a handgun in the suspect’s waistband.
BART officers boarded the train and confronted the suspect at gunpoint, Alvarez said. The suspect then ran out of the train, onto the station platform and then onto the tracks. Alvarez said the suspect displayed a handgun while on the trackway.
“A gun was produced by the suspect and our officers shot, ultimately recovering a gun,” said Alvarez. “The suspect has been transported to the hospital with life-threatening injuries.”
Richmond and El Cerrito del Norte remains closed due to ongoing police activity. a/c transit is providing mutual aid: take bus 52 from n. berkeley transfer to bus 72 or 72M for service to el cerrito plaza, el cerrito del norte and richmond.
— SFBARTalert (@SFBARTalert) February 15, 2020
In an audio recording posted by broadcastify.com, a police dispatcher can be heard relaying the 911 call to police: “Male was standing over the female, cursed at her, grabbed his waist … [witness] saw a gun,” said the dispatcher.
Alvarez said officers arrived with guns drawn and confronted the suspect, but then he took off running. Witnesses said the chase proceeded onto the tracks where shots were fired.
“As soon as I poked my head out, all you hear is about 6, 7 shots went out,” said one witness who did not want to be identified.”
“Pow, pow, pow, pow … about 7, 8 times… and then you just smell gunpowder,” said the witness, describing the gunshots. “Horrible. It was horrific. They didn’t have to do that to him, they didn’t.”
When asked whether it was possible that the suspect pulled a weapon and pointed it at police, the witness said, “No, he was on the train with his girlfriend. They were riding the BART train just like everybody else. And you could clearly see that he wasn’t trying to pull out his weapon or anything. And you could tell when he was running from the police he was holding onto his pants.”
“When he jumped down in the tracks, it must have came out of his pocket and that’s what pursued them to start shooting,” the witness said.
“The young man jumped onto the tracks and kept running. And was asked to stop … but chose not to,” said witness Steve Hopper.
“I appreciate our police departments,” Hopper continued. “They keep us safe. There’s always two sides to every story. I just saw my angle. I don’t know what went down prior to that.”
Chief Alvarez said he was not ready to elaborate on whether the suspect pointed the gun in a threatening manner.
“At this point, we are in the process of recovering a video from the station, the trains, and the body cameras from both officers who were on scene involved,” Alvarez said. “At this point, we know a gun was involved. We will watch the video and verify all that information.”
Two BART officers were directly involved with the incident, Alvarez said; it wasn’t immediately known how many shots were fired.
“Our officers reacted the way they were trained to react,” Alvarez said. “They did a good job.”
Trains on the Richmond line were running as far as El Cerrito Plaza and then turning around.
AC Transit provided service from the North Berkeley station and from there, riders could take the AC Transit Bus 52 and transfer to Bus 72 or 72M to El Cerrito Plaza and Richmond.
By 10 p.m., BART was providing limited train service on the Orange Line and the Richmond station was reopened. The El Cerrito Del Norte station reopened around 10:15 p.m.