Man, 18, charged with making assault weapons in Berkeley

BPD began looking into Yicheng Shi after building management saw a rifle in his eighth-floor unit that was pointing down at a courtyard, police said.

Man, 18, charged with making assault weapons in Berkeley
The Berkeley police station in March 2023. Emilie Raguso/Aipsasiamedia

A teenager from Southern California who was living in a penthouse apartment in downtown Berkeley has been charged with possessing and manufacturing assault weapons there, court papers show.

Yicheng Shi, 18, of San Marino entered not-guilty pleas Thursday in connection with the seven felony charges filed against him this week by the Alameda County DA's office.

Berkeley police began looking into Shi in early January after getting a report from apartment management that they had seen a rifle in his eighth-floor apartment that was pointed down at the building courtyard, according to court papers.

Staff for the apartment building, which is located at Milvia Street and University Avenue, had seen the rifle after going into the apartment with permission to pick up a rent check, police wrote.

When building staff were inside the apartment, they spotted other firearms, too, and alerted the Berkeley Police Department, BPD wrote.

As officers worked on the case, BPD ultimately secured a gun violence restraining order, which allows police to seize weapons in certain circumstances.

BPD also spoke with Shi, who gave officers permission to go into the apartment to collect the weapons, according to court papers.

When they went into his unit, police found the rifle on a tripod, rifle parts nearby, a shotgun and other firearms in a bedroom and several boxes of ammunition, police wrote.

They also found a workbench area with various tools including drills, firearm parts and a pile of metal shavings, police wrote.

Shi agreed to participate in a FaceTime conversation with police while officers searched the apartment, BPD wrote.

During the call, he "demonstrated a significant knowledge in firearms and even pointed out how at least two of the firearms were not legal in California and explained specifically what would have made them legal," police wrote.

He also acknowledged that at least two of the weapons were unserialized "ghost" guns, according to BPD.

Yicheng Shi. BPD

BPD ultimately seized four illegal assault weapons, four illegal silencers, other gun parts, ammunition and tools for manufacturing firearms, police wrote.

Police also noted in court papers that Shi had said he was a student. BPD could not determine if that was the case but did not find any record of him attending UC Berkeley.

On Tuesday, Shi turned himself in to Berkeley police officers. He has since posted bail and was charged Wednesday with seven felonies, according to court papers.

He is scheduled to return to court April 9 for a pretrial hearing, according to court records online.

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