Murder charges filed in summertime shooting near Diversey and Clybourn

Saalik Berberena | CPD

Prosecutors on Sunday accused a California man of fatally shooting another man near Diversey and Clybourn this summer in a dispute over a dice game.

“A stupid dice game,” Cook County Judge John Lyke said after hearing the state’s allegations. “A stupid dice game. I know most people say, well, it’s not about the dice game, it’s about respect. That’s even more stupid.”

Saalik Berberena, 32, is charged with first-degree murder and four counts of aggravated battery of police officers. Prosecutors said Berberena was arrested for another murder in 2007, but the state’s attorney’s office declined to pursue the case because witnesses refused to cooperate.

On July 11, 27-year-old Jovante King drove to the 2800 block of North Leavitt with his brother and a friend to defuse the dice game dispute after receiving a series of anonymous threatening messages, prosecutors said. When the group arrived, a man and a woman both warned King to leave the area because he was in danger.

That’s when Berberena walked up and put a gun to King’s head, the state said. King repeatedly pushed the gun away from his head and tried to calm the situation with his words. But Berberena pulled the trigger, fatally shooting King in the head, according to prosecutors.

When King’s brother began to yell, “get up bro,” Berberena allegedly replied, “he’s not getting up.”

The brother grabbed a gun that was in King’s car and got out of the car. Berberena then began shooting toward the brother as he fled, prosecutors said. King died the next day.

The murder was captured on surveillance video, prosecutors said, but the footage is not clear enough to identify the gunman. Berberena was allegedly identified as the killer by four witnesses. A fugitive apprehension team arrested him Friday on an unrelated warrant.

According to prosecutors, Berberena became uncooperative during a line-up at the Area Three detective division this weekend by refusing to stand and pulling his hoodie over his head. At one point, Berberena began yelling and violently pushed his face into the line-up room glass to intimidate the witness, the state said. The witness reportedly heard the commotion but did not see what happened.

During the line-up incident, which was captured on video, Berberena knocked a police officer to the ground and spit in the faces of three other cops, prosecutors said. The officer who fell suffered injuries to their hip and hand.

Berberena has three previous felony convictions.

“He probably won’t see [California] for a very long time…if ever again,” Lyke said before ordering Berberena held without bail. “If he’s convicted, that is.” Berberena is also being held on an unrelated warrant out of Indiana.

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