A high school-aged minor was sexually assaulted on April 19 on Addison Street between California Street and Sacramento Street. The perpetrator assaulted her at gunpoint.
Berkeley High School (BHS) Latin Teacher John Piazza said that as a teacher and parent, the occurrence of an assault, especially so close to school, worried him. “My number one priority is for students to feel safe in this place where I work, and I support any measures that the school administration, student leadership, and security staff take to make sure that not only our school, but the surrounding area, is safe,” said Piazza.
BHS Principal Erin Schweng sent a message to the community on April 23 with information about those security measures and to encourage students to be cautious and aware. “While BPD has added extra patrols around the city during school hours, I still want to caution all students to avoid walking alone if at all possible, and to be extra aware of your surroundings at all times,” said Schweng in the statement.
Additionally, she included statements from BPD and Berkeley Unified School District Superintendent Donald Evans issued April 20. Evans encouraged students “to report any suspicious or harmful behavior to a trusted adult immediately, just as this student did.” Both Schweng’s statement and that of BPD stressed that the investigation was ongoing and BPD solicited the community’s assistance. BPD asked that any community members in the area with surveillance cameras review their security footage.
Students also expressed concerns about their safety on and around campus following the incident. “It deeply concerns me that people are getting raped so close to school and it should not be happening” said Mahkie Keith, a BHS freshman. BHS Juniors Hailey Watson and Nishat Sheikh conveyed similar concerns regarding the incident and its proximity to campus. “It’s obvious that we still have a ways to go before we reach this goal,” said Piazza.