Murder in the Berkeley Hills

Police have arrested a suspect for a fatal shooting in the Hills that left Berkeley residents shocked.

Just after 4:00 PM on Saturday, September 24, a neighborhood in the North Berkeley Hills was disrupted by the sound of fatal gunshots. After being alerted by local residents, police found a man dead outside a home on the 1100 block of Glen Avenue, just north of the Berkeley Rose Garden. After two days of investigation, the police classified the incident as Berkeley’s fourth homicide of the year.

Murder charges were filed against 26-year-old Jessie McAllister on September 28, followed by an arraignment the next day. The Berkeley resident was arrested under suspicion of murder a few days before at the Berkeley Amtrack station by Fourth Street, and is being held in custody at Santa Rita Jail without bail.

When first responders arrived at Glen Avenue after 911 calls about gunfire, they found 39-year-old Alfred Charles Taylor Jr. injured in a resident’s backyard. Despite the immediate aid of firefighters, Taylor died at the scene of the crime soon after.

The house where the homicide occurred was cordoned off for police investigation and three people near the crime scene were brought in for questioning.

Berkeley High School sophomore Orelia Newman, who lives on Arch Street just below Glen, noted that nothing out of the ordinary occurred prior to the homicide. “I was really surprised,” Newman stated. “The block was pretty quiet, nobody was out of their house, and I had this sense of ‘nothing ever happens here,’ ” she explained.

McAllister originally denied involvement in the homicide, but admitted to shooting the victim after being presented with evidence against him.

Along with the murder charges, McAllister has been convicted of possession of a firearm by a felon as well as other special allegations that could potentially extend his sentence. 

In 2014, McAllister faced allegations of first degree residential burglary and was charged under various felony counts. A year later, in a separate case, he was brought to court under charges of assault by a deadly weapon.

More recently, in late June of 2020, McAllister was charged with multiple gun-related felonies, including possession of a loaded firearm, following shootings at People’s Park and a 7-Eleven near Telegraph Avenue. Less than a month later, he was released from jail and placed on probation with a suspended sentence.

Taylor, the victim, had been charged with multiple felonies as well. He was arrested in 2016 and released on a citation for battery. The following year, in June, Taylor was convicted of second degree robbery. Following a probation investigation, Taylor was sentenced to time in San Joaquin State Prison. The court declined to set restitution until a later date.

The homicide was unexpected for many residents of the community, as the North Berkeley Hills neighborhood is typically peaceful and unassuming. The neighborhood has an older demographic, and Newman explained that “there isn’t really a sense of community.” Compared to central Berkeley, the houses are further apart and the properties are dotted with dense vegetation and towering pine trees. A large tree partially blocks the front stoop of the home where the homicide happened.

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