A local business owner was taken to the hospital with a broken leg after robbers pepper-sprayed him and stole his Alfa Romeo during a carjacking in the Elmwood on Tuesday, Berkeley police report.
The robbers struck the man with the car as they fled the scene, police said, leaving him with a broken leg.
The incident began in the man's business, Elmwood Laundry, said Officer Byron White, Berkeley police spokesman. That's where one of the culprits pepper-sprayed the business owner, who tried to escape by running away.
A witness to the violent carjacking told The Berkeley Scanner that she had been sitting at an Elmwood café when she saw two people, possibly juveniles, attack a man at College Avenue and Russell Street at about 11:45 a.m.
"The café was full and people were yelling and some took a video," she said. "They were punching the guy and seemed to get what they wanted and ran back to the parking lot in from of the 7-Eleven."
Police said the pair was able to take the man's wallet and car keys during the struggle.
The witness told The Berkeley Scanner that the car owner ran back to the 7-Eleven parking lot and tried to open his car door to stop the robbers from leaving while a truck in the parking lot tried to block the exit.
As the robbers drove off, they reversed into the car owner and knocked him over, then "sped on the sidewalk (on Russell) and then north on College Avenue," the witness said.
The car owner, a 57-year-old Oakland man, was taken to a local hospital for treatment after the attack, police said.
Limited descriptions were available of the carjackers on Tuesday afternoon.
They "were masked and fully clothed" and both were smaller and had slight builds, the witness told The Scanner.
Police said the pair wore dark clothing and were male. The car they took was a white 2018 four-door Alfa Romeo.
It was Berkeley's first carjacking of 2023. The city tends to have about a dozen carjackings a year.
Berkeley police ask anyone with information about the Elmwood carjacking to call 510-981-5900.