A homeless man alleged to have punched four strangers this week, including UC Berkeley students, told police he was training for a jiu-jitsu match — and that the people he had attacked were his sparring partners, authorities report.
The random attacks happened in quick succession Wednesday evening in the Southside neighborhood just south of the UC Berkeley campus, the Berkeley Police Department said in response to a Berkeley Scanner inquiry.
Police say 52-year-old James Rainey Jr. had begun punching people on Telegraph Avenue near Channing Way and worked his way up Telegraph to Durant Avenue, about a block away, shortly after 5 p.m. Wednesday.
When officers arrived, one of the people who had been attacked pointed out Rainey, who was shirtless, to police, BPD said.
James Rainey Jr. Berkeley Police
After reading him his rights, Rainey told police he was training for a jiu-jitsu or boxing match, according to court papers, and that the people he had punched were his training partners.
Police said the four people who were attacked were all young men, ages 19, 21 (two victims) and 23.
At the time of his arrest, Rainey was already on probation for assault with a deadly weapon, police wrote.
On Thursday, the Alameda County district attorney's office charged Rainey with four counts of misdemeanor battery, according to court papers.
According to Alameda County Superior Court records reviewed by The Berkeley Scanner, it is Rainey's third criminal case this year alone.
In January, he was charged with indecent exposure and engaging in lewd conduct, both misdemeanors. He was convicted that month and placed on probation for one year, according to court records.
In February, he was charged with elder or dependent adult abuse and assault with a deadly weapon, also both misdemeanors.
In that incident, Rainey was caught on video, according to court papers, "ranting, raving" and brandishing a 5-foot stick. Police said he used the stick to attack a local businessman in the 3000 block of Adeline Street, near the Ashby BART station.
Police found methamphetamine and marijuana on Rainey when they searched him in February, according to court papers.
As of Friday, Rainey remained in custody at Santa Rita Jail in Dublin. No bail amount was listed.
He had been scheduled for arraignment Friday morning. His next court date was not listed as of publication time.