A man who opened fire on Telegraph Avenue early Saturday morning, killing one man and wounding three others, appeared calm and "like he didn't care who he shot," a witness to the violence told The Berkeley Scanner.
The woman had been driving with her husband up Durant Avenue toward Telegraph at about 1 a.m., in preparation for a DoorDash run, when suddenly they heard a long series of popping sounds, at least 10 in a row.
The rapid-fire explosions were right beside their car, although the gunman's back was to the couple.
The woman froze. Her husband, who was in the passenger seat, realized the danger immediately.
"My husband's like, 'Go, go!'" she said. They took a hard left on Telegraph as the explosions continued: "I think we got all the way to the next street before he stopped shooting."
(The Berkeley Scanner is not naming the couple due to the nature of the incident and because no arrests have been announced.)
Enjoying the night, then "everything just changed"
Minutes earlier, when they had pulled up to the red light at Telegraph Avenue, she recalled, perhaps 100 UC Berkeley students and other young people were out on the block just enjoying the night.
Many people in the crowd seemed to have just come from the neighborhood's popular bars. They were milling about and chatting. Some were walking up Durant Avenue toward Telegraph.
"A minute later, everything just changed," she said.
That's when the woman and her husband saw two men — who appeared older than the college crowd — running east up Durant Avenue across the intersection. The men looked like they were afraid of something or trying to get away quickly.
(Police have not said whether those two men are linked to the shooting, but officers had already been responding to the Southside neighborhood just prior to the violence for reports of men who were smashing car windows to burglarize vehicles.)
At almost the same moment, the woman said, the gunman started shooting, aiming southbound on Telegraph Avenue. The entire crowd started running.
Police have said only that "a fight broke out" just before the gunfire.
From their vantage point behind the man, the couple couldn't see a gun. The man was "just slowly walking," she said.
"We wouldn't have even known he was shooting. He just seemed so calm about it," she said. "It just seemed like he didn't care who he shot."
"To shoot into a crowd of people like that," she continued, "there must have been more than one person involved. Or he was just trying to shoot anybody."
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"I just needed to breathe"
When they got off the avenue, the woman and her husband drove to a parking lot near Ashby BART and parked. The woman recalls noticing how her body was literally shaking.
"I just needed to breathe," she said. "I'm probably never gonna forget that. I'm sure all those college kids are probably never gonna forget that either."
The couple decided to drive home, where their six children were sleeping. When they arrived, she kissed each of the kids on the forehead, then tried to go to bed.
But she couldn't stop thinking about what she had seen. She stayed up until at least 5 a.m. trying to pass the time — doing her crosswords and searching the web for news of what had happened.
She wondered if the man had hit anyone. She wondered if he'd been arrested.
Eventually, the woman said, she came across The Berkeley Scanner story about the shooting on Twitter. After reading it, she said, she hoped police would find the man and that the people he had shot would get justice.
Growing up in Berkeley, she added, it had felt like a safe community.
"We were out every night, every day," she recalled, walking from UC Berkeley to Ashby BART or down to the Berkeley pier. "We never got shot at. We never heard gunshots. Stuff like this is just unheard of to me."
Right after the shooting, the woman said she'd felt like it might be awhile before she would feel comfortable driving for DoorDash again or returning to the Southside neighborhood where the violence happened.
But it didn't take long before she had a change of heart, she said.
She wasn't going to let fear rule her life, she told The Scanner. And the bulk of the DoorDash orders she gets are from in or around Berkeley, she added.
"You have to just have faith," she said. "You gotta stay prayed up and stay careful. Because you just never know what could happen."