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Probationary man charged in Berkeley bombings

BERKELEY — A man released on probation in January after a plea bargain in a sexual assault case has been charged in June 17 attacks on two people downtown: a woman punched in the face during a robbery and a 78-year-old man struck with a blunt object, according to authorities and court records.

Chiazo Onwuasoeze Jr., 34, is charged with two counts: elder abuse and second-degree robbery. He is also charged with misdemeanor vandalism under $400. The charges include a reinforcing allegation that he was on probation when the crimes were committed.

He is being held without bond in Santa Rita Jail for violating probation and on $107,000 bail for the June 17 charges. He is due to enter a plea on July 6.

According to court records, at around 12:13 p.m. on June 17, Onwuasoeze is suspected of stealing a 32-year-old Rodeo woman’s phone and glasses from inside a McDonald’s restaurant at 1998 Shattuck Avenue.

When the woman grabbed Onwuasoeze, he punched her in the face with his right hand once or twice before the woman hit him back and he fled, records show.

The woman chased Onwuasoeze toward Shattuck Avenue and Delaware Street. While running away from the woman, Onwuasoeze threw an A-panel on the ground in front of her to try to block her path. The victim’s phone was found at the scene, but not his glasses.

About 10 minutes later, Onwuasoeze walked into a cupcake shop at 1690 Shattuck Avenue and smashed their trash can and hand sanitizer dispenser, records show.

Then, in the same block, Onwuasoeze allegedly assaulted the 78-year-old, a random passerby, with a “construction helmet”, according to records. The man suffered a laceration near his left eye and broken blood vessels in the same eye, police said.

Onwuasoeze then threw a brick at the taillight of a passing car on Francisco Street and Shattuck Avenue, records show.

Berkeley police officers arrested Onwuasoeze on Francisco Street west of Shattuck Avenue at around 12:28 p.m. because he matched the suspect’s description. The man who was assaulted, the woman who was robbed and the owner of the car that was vandalized all identified him at the scene and he was arrested.

According to authorities and court records, on January 31, Onwuasoeze was placed on probation after a plea bargain in a January 10 case where he was arrested for touching a woman’s breast while she stood at the door of a Berkeley apartment building on Delaware Street. When the victim, who is in his 20s, told the man she was calling the police, he backed off. When the police arrived, they found Onwuasoeze still outside the building and arrested him. The police also found in his possession three debit or credit cards that were not his.

He was charged Jan. 11 with sexual assault and fraudulent possession of personal information, two misdemeanors, according to court records. On January 31, he entered a plea of ​​no contest to another misdemeanor charge – assault with force likely to produce grievous bodily harm. He was found guilty of this and the other two counts were dismissed. He was placed on probation until January 2023 and released.

According to court records, Onwuasoeze was previously convicted of a felony in May 2012 in San Diego County for assault with injury on emergency personnel. He went to jail in this case.