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Suspected purse snatcher faces murder charge in dragging death of popular California bakery owner and activist

Jen Angel, left, and Ishmael Jenkins Burch. (Screenshots from San Francisco Bay Area's Fox affiliate KTVU)

Jen Angel, left, and Ishmael Jenkins Burch. (Screenshots from San Francisco Bay Area’s Fox affiliate KTVU)

A 19-year-old man was charged in the killing of a popular California bakery owner fatally wounded in a purse snatching after being dragged by the getaway car and hitting her head in the middle of the street.

Ishmael Jenkins Burch was charged with murder and second-degree robbery in the killing of Jen Angel in February. Burch also faces one battery charge for a second robbery on the same day. He was arrested on June 2. Burch is being held without bail at Santa Rita Jail in Dublin, California. His next hearing was set for July 14, online jail records show.

Angel was fatally wounded on Feb. 6 in downtown Oakland when a thief broke into her car while she was in it, snatched her purse, then ran to a getaway vehicle. Angel jumped out of her car and ran after the thief, but she was knocked down in a struggle, snagged by the suspects’ car door and dragged more than 50 feet before falling into the street, according to the San Jose Mercury News.

Angel died three days later at a hospital after losing all brain function and being taken off life support, friends said.

Burch was identified as the driver, and he committed a second robbery nearby that day, police said. Cellphone data and surveillance footage helped identify Burch as a suspect, the Mercury News reported.

Angel, 48, once ran an alternative magazine and founded Angel Cakes. In 2016, she opened a storefront bakery at 745 Fifth Street in Oakland, in the historic Gingerbread House, an Oakland staple from the 1970s to 2007.

Her family said they didn’t want the person or people responsible for her death to be incarcerated, to honor her commitment to restorative and transformative justice. She believed incarceration was not an effective or just solution to social violence and inequity.

On a website, the estate of Jen Angel, a group of trusted friends, said the family is committed to pursuing all available alternatives to traditional prosecution.

“Jen’s family and close friends ask that the media respect this request and carry forward the story of her life with celebration and clarity about the world she aimed to build,” the statement said. “Jen’s family and friends ask that stories referencing Jen’s life do not use her legacy of care and community to further inflame narratives of fear, hatred, and vengeance. We do not support putting public resources into policing, incarceration, or other state violence that perpetuates the cycle of violence that resulted in this tragedy.

“Steps absolutely need to be taken to ensure that those who caused this horrendous violence against Jen do not harm other people and that these circumstances are not allowed to be replicated in our society,” the statement continued. “However, Jen believed that the current legal system is not effective in ensuring either of these things and that the existing system of carceral punishment does not make society safer.”

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