Police: Witnesses likely saved the life of Berkeley burn victim

BART police arrested Bradley Marcrum on suspicion of fare evasion. Then they saw he was wanted in connection with attempted murder.

Police: Witnesses likely saved the life of Berkeley burn victim
Police say the June 28 attack took place on Bonar Street south of University Avenue, across the street from a gas station. Google Street View

Berkeley police say witnesses doused the flames of a man who was set on fire last week in a random attack and rendered aid until first responders arrived — likely saving the man's life.

The 68-year-old Berkeley man was ultimately taken to a burn unit for treatment. As of Friday, he was in stable condition, Berkeley police said.

"This was a life-altering crime for the victim, and we know horrific crimes such as this also substantially impact witnesses and the wider community," Officer Jessica Perry, BPD spokeswoman, said Friday. "We give heartfelt thanks to the brave community members that rushed to the scene and rendered aid until medical personnel arrived to assist in treating this victim."

On Friday, BPD announced felony charges in the case, which The Berkeley Scanner previously reported.

Bradley Marcrum. BPD

On Thursday, The Scanner broke the news that Bradley Marcrum had been charged with attempted murder, mayhem and elder abuse.

Friday's BPD statement and court papers included new details about the circumstances of the attack and also shed light on how suspect Marcrum was arrested.

The 24-year-old Berkeley man was picked up by BART police Wednesday morning on suspicion of fare evasion, according to court records. Authorities then found his warrant for the near-deadly attack in Berkeley and held him until BPD could pick him up.

An unprovoked attack

On the night of the incident, police said the 68-year-old Berkeley man was sitting on a bench on Bonar Street south of University Avenue when a stranger approached him.

"An unprovoked attack ensued, and the suspect then doused the victim in gasoline and lit him on fire," BPD said Friday. The assailant then fled the scene.

Multiple witnesses saw what happened, police said.

One "brave community member used water to extinguish the fire, and another community member pulled over to render aid, likely saving the victim's life. The victim was transported to a nearby hospital with extensive burn injuries."

According to court papers, the victim sustained significant burns to the face and neck and required intubation.

The Berkeley Scanner was the only news outlet to report what happened.

According to court papers, Marcrum was also involved in a disturbance in San Francisco earlier that day. The Scanner has asked SFPD for details.

After the attack, patrol officers responded to the scene, found video surveillance and located evidence left behind by the suspect, BPD said Friday.

Detectives used surveillance footage and witness statements to identify Marcrum, Berkeley police said.

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Ross Wolfer injured a 75-year-old man and a 70-year-old woman, then confronted a father with his children, police say.

In its announcement Friday, BPD thanked the BART Police Department for making the arrest Wednesday.

Marcrum also has an open misdemeanor case related to brandishing a weapon in Berkeley on April 8, in the 1100 block of Francisco Street, according to court records and police.

According to preliminary reports that day, Marcrum was "messing with neighbors" and then brandished a weapon at a community member who tried to intervene at about 7:30 p.m.

Several other arrests were listed in his booking record, including one related to carjacking, but no further information was immediately available about them.

As of Friday, Marcrum remains in custody without bail, according to court records online.

He was scheduled for arraignment Friday morning. His next court date was not listed as of publication time.


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