A 19-year-old mother of a 10-month-old baby, who was carrying her second child, was fatally shot in a brazen drive-by shooting Wednesday while her entire family was in the same car with her.
The incident happened around 7 p.m. Wednesday on Prince Street in South Berkeley between Harper and Ellis Streets. A longtime resident of the street tells Berkeleyside that he heard the gunshots — estimates range from 17 to 22 in all — and "It didn’t sound right, because of the rapid fire."
One bullet struck 19-year-old Sereinat’e Henderson in the head, while her mother, son, and two teenage siblings were in the car with her. As ABC 7 reports via Henderson's mother, Salima Wyrick, the family was in the car when they became boxed in, with a black vehicle behind them and a white vehicle that pulled up alongside the driver's side of the car. Henderson was driving and she was the only person struck in what's been described as a hail of gunfire.
Henderson (whose first name is pronounced "Serenity") died a short while later at Highland Hospital in Oakland.
Family and neighbors in South Berkeley are seeking answers, and police have said little about the shooting in the past two days.
Henderson's grandmother, Janice Marie Small, tells ABC7, "They didn't even care about her baby being in the car. We just want answers. She never bothered nobody. She never hurt anyone."
Berkeleyside says Henderson's family has "deep roots" in the neighborhood, and the shooting has shocked everyone. This was Berkeley's fifth homicide of the year so far.
Henderson's mother-in-law, who wanted only to be identified by her first initial, K, tells Berkeleyside that the young woman and her son were high school sweethearts who met when they were 14, and they were about to have a second child together. And K says that her phone was "ringing off the hook" Wednesday night after the shooting.
"Everybody started calling me at once," she tells Berkeleyside. "South Berkeley’s small."
The shooting comes at a time of escalating violence and a spike in homicides in neighboring Oakland, which police have blamed partly on the pandemic. Similar spikes in violence in other cities have also been blamed on increasing distrust of the police — which leads to more scores being settled in the streets.
This shooting seems especially random and brazen, however, and it's unclear whether the shooters intended anyone in the vehicle as their target. (It's also reminiscent of a tragic shooting nearly a year ago in East Oakland that took the life of a young mother, Misty Smith Walton, who was also pregnant.)
As Todd Walker, a funeral director and youth coach who is close with Henderson's family, tells ABC 7, "Like now, you shoot innocent people right now. They're just shooting, because they don't feel like nobody care. They feel like nobody care, and that's sad."
Anyone with information about the shooting is asked to call the Berkeley Police Department homicide division at (510) 981-5741.
Photo courtesy of the family, via Berkeleyside