Town Crier: Oakland hills neighbors rattled over Huckleberry Preserve slaying

MONTCLARION: December 5, 2014

It’s been an unsettling time for neighbors who live near the Huckleberry Preserve. Last week’s fatal shooting stripped away some of the tranquility we felt on that meandering trail framed by berry bushes and Manzanitas and soft, sweeping vistas.

Some of us don’t want to hike alone anymore. Some women won’t even walk in groups until an arrest has been made. If anything positive can come from this, it’s that neighbors are working with police to find these thugs. Homeowners are scouring security video and passing out sketches of the suspects. There’s also a $10,000 reward for information that will help solve the case.

If you have any information on the Nov. 25 homicide, please call East Bay Regional Park police investigators at 510-690-6549 or 510-881-1833.

Email bag: My recent column on sidewalk soliciting has struck a chord. Many readers are concerned about what seems to be an increase in people asking for money in Montclair. One reader says she overheard a panhandler telling someone: ” ‘Well, I am packing it up tonight,’ as if he had a job.” She says the same man (with the cardboard signs outside Lucky) walked into the store and bought lottery tickets.

As people of means who have empathy for others, what are we supposed to do? Daniel Swafford, executive director of the Montclair Village Association, says the best way to help is to avoid the urge to give handouts. Give, instead, to legitimate charities.

“A couple of bucks is, in many ways, just enabling their sense of wanting to sustain that lifestyle,” Swafford says.

In the case of the man who is begging for food outside Lucky, Swafford says he’s been tossing the donated food in the bushes. He’s loitering and littering, yet the good-hearted people of Montclair unwittingly encourage this behavior.

“This is not someone who’s going to be best served by handouts on the street,” Swafford says.

I absolutely agree. Our generosity should be channeled into programs that bring about a transformation. Does the Salvation Army ring a bell?

Around town: If food is love, then Oakland student Anya Ku has a winner with her new cookbook “Flavors of Oakland.” Ku and friend Elazar Sontag are interviewing and photographing folks from a variety of backgrounds and letting each cook a dish from their culture. The end result will be a cross-cultural cookbook that Ku hopes will encourage unity in Oakland. “We want to encourage people to cross racial boundaries and realize that we have more in common than we have differences,” she says.

Got news? You can reach Ginny Prior by email at or on the web at



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