Bay Area

$30K kidnapping for ransom in Berkeley after online meeting arrangement

BERKELEY (KRON) - It sounds like something right out of a Hollywood movie, a kidnapping for ransom in Berkeley.

And the suspects are not from the Bay Area.

Cell phone video recorded Sunday just after midnight of a traffic stop in the City of Patterson led to the arrests of five suspects. They are allegedly connected to a violent kidnapping for ransom that occurred about 6 hours earlier in Berkeley.

"This is definitely a rare and brutal kidnapping," Berkeley police Officer Byron White said. "We're talking about a young man who was taken from a motel and bound, put in the back of a vehicle, and driven however many miles."

Berkeley police investigators say the victim is described as a 21-year-old man from the Bay Area, and the five suspects are from South Carolina. They made contact with each other online and agreed to meet at the Knight's Inn Motel at around 6:30 p.m.

Police say he was kidnapped at gunpoint.

Patterson police sent KRON4 a photo of one their officers holding this weapon confiscated during the arrests. Investigators say at around 10 p.m., the suspects contacted a friend of the victim demanding $30,000 ransom.

That is when the kidnapping victim's friend contacted Berkeley police. Officer White says Berkeley police investigators developed leads pointing to Stanislaus County.

"They were able to narrow it down to the City of Patterson and officers were able to contact Patterson Police Department let, them know about the suspects and the vehicle that they were possibly driving," White said.

The kidnapping suspects are Jamikaco Thompson, Vacenta Rice, Antravious Evans, Racal Thompson, and Rodquavious Whitehurst.

"Charges include kidnap for ransom, torture, robbery, possession of an assault weapon, and then some other related enhancements," White said.

Berkeley police say this incident is the latest in an emerging trend involving suspects from the other parts of the country traveling to the West Coast targeting victims for various crimes.

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