Oakland Tribune Outtakes

Notes from Oakland, Berkeley and in between

Fox News theory: serial roof-top pushing in Berkeley

By kbender
Tuesday, May 20th, 2008 at 5:58 pm in Uncategorized.

A spokesman from the Alameda County Coroner’s Office told me this week that University of California, Berkeley new graduate Alan Hamai died of multiple blunt injuries sustained when he fell (or possibly jumped) 30 feet off from his Durant Avenue apartment rooftop early Saturday.

Detectives are still investigating, talking to friends and neighbors, but by all accounts police say it was an accident or suicide. There was no sign of foul play. No sign of a struggle. Nothing to indicate that anyone else was even with Hamai on the rooftop. Hamai certainly was not the first college student to die from a fall off a rooftop.

Many have done so _ drunk or not _ before him. But Hamai is certainly the first UC Berkeley student to tumble from a building in recent years. But you wouldn’t know it from the call I received Monday from Fox News’ Jeff Miller with the “On the Record with Greta” program.

Miller wanted to know my thoughts on a theory that someone is running around Berkeley pushing people off rooftops. A serial pusher of sorts. I didn’t want to laugh at his theory because death is certainly not a laughing matter. But now I have a better understanding of why journalists get lumped together as sensationalists.

“No,” I told Miller, “I don’t think that.” Police don’t think that. UC officials don’t think that. Why on Earth would you?

Hamai’s death is the third near the Cal campus in three weeks. Christopher Wootton, a 21-year-old nuclear engineering student who was set to graduate this month was stabbed to death in front of a sorority on May 3. Last week, Maceo Smith, a 33-year-old Berkeley man who was not a student, was shot near the Cal campus as students walked to graduation.

Chancellor Robert Birgeneau sent out a statement this week that said that recent weeks have been the most tragic in his long career in education. “In all my years in higher education, this has been among the saddest and most tragic times for a university community that I have known….”

I wonder if Miller realized that when he was digging around for a story that wasn’t there.

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