The Berkeley Police Department is continuing its investigation into the murder of 19-year-old UC Berkeley student Seth Smith, who was found shot in the head about a mile away from campus.
Berkeley Public Information Officer Byron White confirmed to The College Fix on Wednesday that there are no new developments in the investigation at this time.
The city of Berkeley is offering a $50,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those found responsible.
Asked to confirm reports about the nature of Smith’s death, Officer White confirmed to The Fix that “he appears to have been shot in the head from behind.”
Berkeley police report that on the night of June 15, Smith was found unresponsive on the sidewalk, “shot to death by an unknown suspect or suspects.” Police have asked for the community’s help in solving the crime, noting “even the smallest detail could be critical.”
On Twitter, Smith’s mother Michelle Rode-Smith wrote June 18: “I need #Berkeley’s help. 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.”
I need #Berkeley’s help. 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. This was in front of a house. 1/
— Michelle Rode-Smith (@mrodesmi) June 18, 2020
He had moved into his new apartment just several weeks prior, according to an interview his mother gave to KTVU, a local Fox affiliate.
Berkeleyside reports that Rode-Smith said her son “was set to turn 20 in July and was entering his third year at UC Berkeley. She described her son as brilliant and said he was slated to graduate from UC Berkeley in May 2021. He was a double major in history and economics.”
An article in The Californian student newspaper described him as “everyone’s brother.”
“He was a National Merit Scholarship finalist and was revered by teachers as a student who took ‘AP everything,’” the Cal reports.
The family recently launched a Seth Smith Memorial Scholarship Fund, stating Smith “was brilliant, kind and loved. In his memory we are establishing this scholarship fund so that students with his qualities can move forward in his name.”
The university decried the killing in a June 22 message from Chancellor Carol Christ, but the statement also brought up the murder of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officers, prompting some controversy.
The statement called the killing of Smith a “senseless tragedy that affects all of us” and offered the “deepest sympathy to Seth’s family, friends, teachers, fellow students, and our community.”
It reminded people to respect each other and the grieving process because “individuals may express their grief differently.”
“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,” the university’s statement added.
That portion of the statement provoked criticism among some as it circulated on social media. A university official lashed out at Gregg Re with Fox News after he criticized the statement on Twitter.
UPDATE: From Vice Chancellor Mogulof: "Im sorry that our desire to acknowledge and empathize with what folks are feeling rubs you the wrong way and didnt realize that there is some sort of rule stating that only one tragedy should be acknowledged in a given campus message."[sic] pic.twitter.com/a9YhmFeAn8
— Gregg Re (@gregg_re) June 25, 2020
A university spokesman e-mailed Re, saying “Im sorry that our desire to acknowledge and empathize with what folks are feeling rubs you the wrong way and didnt realize that there is some sort of rule stating that only one tragedy should be acknowledged in a given campus message,” [sic] according to a screenshot tweeted by Re.
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IMAGE: Seth Smith / via GoFundMe screenshot