Two employees shot during armed robbery at Berkeley's Ashkenaz

March 16, 2013 5:37:03 PM PDT
A celebration at a landmark venue in Berkeley was marred by gunfire and a robbery Friday night. The shooting happened at Ashkenaz Music and Dance Community Center. Two armed robbers shot the employees as they took money from the night's receipts. Police arrested one man but another is still at large.

The venue's Executive Director Larry Chin was shot in the neck. Another employee, who has not been identified, was shot in the arm. We spoke with an employee named Comfort Mensah who says she's lucky to be alive. She was standing right next to her boss when he was shot

"So now my boss in the hospital with another guy, so they shot two people," Mensah said.

Mensah has been working at Berkeley's Ashkenaz for 16 years. On Friday night when the club was full and celebrating 40 years of business, she says two men opened fire. It happened as she and boss Chin were counting the night's receipts. She showed us where she was standing when she heard the shots.

"Pop!" Mensah exclaimed. "So I look up and everybody looks okay in the moment. So when I hear pop pop and then I hear everybody dropping down."

She says she didn't know what was happening, so she turned to Chin for help.

"So I'm turning to look at my boss what should we do?" Mensah said. "My boss is right here his head is down and blood is just flowing."

She says one of the men bumped past her and emptied the cash drawer. Another took the money from the door. Then both men ran out.

Berkeley police, who had already been called because the club had collected some counterfeit money, arrived as the robbers were running out. Police cordoned off the area around San Pablo Avenue and Gilman Street and chased one suspect.

"Due to the serious nature of the crime we called in our barricaded subjects and hostage negotiation team, our SWAT team," Sgt. David White said. "Along with the Alameda County Sheriff's office and K-9 unit we were able to locate that suspect behind the building."

According to White, the young man was taken into custody without incident and a second suspect is still outstanding.

Both wounded employees are expected to survive, but workers at Ashkenaz tell us they still have to undergo some delicate operations.

The venue reopens Saturday at 7 p.m. They're asking the community to stop by and show their support.

Police ask anyone with information about the shooting to give them a call.


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