Richmond police response to Sirmonte Bernstine’s killing nets 10 arrests

23rd Street fight turns fatal

Richmond police have arrested 10 people this week, eight on gun possession charges, as the result of heightened police activity since the Tuesday night killing of 23-year-old Sirmonte Bernstine, Capt. Mark Gagan said.

The department has been on a mission to prevent retaliatory attacks after Bernstine, who police say had gang ties, was killed in a shooting that injured two others in the 3900 block of Fleming Avenue about 7:20 p.m. Tuesday.

More street patrols have been deployed and detectives have been working closely with parole and probation officers to identify who would be most likely to use gun violence, Gagan said.

The extra efforts led to the arrest of eight felons on gun possession charges between Wednesday and Friday, Gagan said, along with two arrested for parole violations.

The suspects are dangerous criminals, police said. One of the men was wearing a ballistics vest at the time of his arrest about 6 p.m. Wednesday on Bissell Avenue, where he fled when police approached him, police said.

Officers learned about the vest after a Taser failed to work when he allegedly resisted arrest, Gagan said.

In addition to the arrests, Ceasefire volunteers from the Contra Costa Interfaith Supporting Community Organization (CCISCO) walked through the Crescent Park Apartments, the area where Bernstine was killed, to talk to residents in an effort to deter retaliatory violence.

CCISCO Executive Director Christina Hernandez and Police Chief Chris Magnus exchanged emails expressing a desire to remain committed to a community-police partnership to quell gang violence.

Gagan said all the efforts are part of a multifaceted approach to responding to gun violence in Richmond that has been credited with reducing crime.

“We no longer cast a wide net to deter violence where we just intimidate a neighborhood with police presence,” Gagan said. “We really use intelligence gathering….find out who would be armed, who would perpetrate gun violence. The detectives are very surgical in how they do their work. While a higher level of police presence is designed to deter retaliatory shootings, simultaneously a very in-depth investigation is going on involving Mr. Bernstine’s killing. Detectives are focused on bringing his killers to justice.”

No suspects have been named in connection with Bernstine’s death.