Police in Berkeley, California, have arrested a 60-year-old man in connection with the horrific killing of 19-year-old Seth Smith, who was set to start his third year at University of California-Berkeley.
Tony Lorenzo Walker, who lives near where Smith was shot from behind on June 15, was arrested Aug. 20 on a first degree murder charge, according to Alameda County jail booking records. He is being held without bail and is scheduled for an arraignment hearing Tuesday.
There is no evidence that suggests Smith knew Walker before the fatal shooting, reported Berkeleyside, citing the police report.
Smith, who was just about to turn 20, was seen lying on a sidewalk by a passerby, who called the police. When emergency responders arrived, they discovered Smith had been shot in the head and pronounced him dead at the scene. The Berkeley Police Department at the time announced a $50,000 reward for information that would lead to the murderer’s arrest.
Nights are sometimes@the hardest. It’s when I have time to slow my brain down and remember my beautiful son💔💔💔 God I miss him 💔💔#SethSmithdidntdeservetodieat19 #JusticeForSethSmith #Berkeley #CalBears pic.twitter.com/PDQym0Dmum
— Michelle Rode-Smith (@mrodesmi) August 17, 2020
Alameda County’s criminal court record shows that Walker has an extensive criminal history dating back to 1982, when he was charged with assault with a semiautomatic weapon and battery. He had also been charged with felony vehicle theft in 1992 and convicted of felony assault with a deadly weapon in 2001, among other criminal charges and convictions.
Walker had last been arrested in June 2019, after a woman living near Walker’s residence found him trying to break into her apartment and called the police, reported Berkeleyside.
“How can anyone be shot in front of homes and no one saw or heard anything,” Smith’s mother, Michelle Rode-Smith, wrote on Twitter. “I can not rest until I know why my son Seth was taken from us. He enjoyed walking. He’d always been a night owl kid. He should not have been shot in the back of the head for walking on his street.”
The family recently launched a memorial scholarship fund in memory of Smith, stating that the young man was “brilliant, kind and loved” and hoping the scholarship fund could help students with those qualities.
An online petition entitled “We Demand Justice for Seth Smith” was also created, calling on UC Berkeley and the Berkeley Police Department to bring the murderer to justice. The petition, which has gained some 6,400 supporting signatures from the Berkeley community and general public, also criticized a message from UC Berkeley Chancellor Carol Christ for inappropriately using the tragedy as an opportunity to advance social justice causes.
“We realize this is a difficult time for those of you who knew Seth,” the university’s statement reads. “Many of you may have had a close relationship with Seth and are feeling a sense of loss and disbelief. Others, like many of us, are experiencing stress, grief and anxiety related to the coronavirus pandemic and the recent murders of George Floyd, Riah Milton, and other Black Americans.”