Former Bay Area news anchor Frank Somerville, who has spoken publicly about his struggles with mental health and substance abuse issues, was arrested twice in one night after domestic disturbances at his family’s home in Berkeley, according to authorities.
Officers responded about 6:36 p.m. Monday to a “family altercation” at a home on Indian Rock Avenue, the Berkeley Police Department said in a news release. Officers detained Somerville and spoke with all parties, determining that Somerville was “intoxicated and showed up regarding ongoing family issues at the residence.”
Somerville was told to leave by family members but refused, and a physical altercation broke out after he threatened one person, according to police. Both parties suffered non-life-threatening injuries and were treated at the scene by Berkeley Fire Department personnel and released.
Somerville’s brother Mark told the Berkeley Scanner that Somerville had shown up at the house and threatened their 91-year-old father. When Mark told him to leave, he said, they got into a fight outside the home and Mark detained Somerville until officers arrived.
Somerville was arrested on suspicion of criminal threats, public intoxication, assault and violating probation, and was taken to the Berkeley jail, authorities said.
About 3:26 a.m., police received another call from the home on Indian Rock Avenue saying that Somerville had returned and was ringing the doorbell.
Somerville had gone back to the house to get his car after being released from jail, left and returned again to retrieve something he had lost the night before, police said. Somerville kept ringing the doorbell until one of his family members called the police.
Officers found Somerville sitting in his car and showing “objective signs and symptoms of public intoxication,” authorities said. He was arrested on suspicion of DUI and violating his probation, and was taken back to the Berkeley jail.
As of Tuesday morning, he remained in custody and had been transferred to Santa Rita Jail, an Alameda County lockup.
Somerville was an anchor for KTVU-TV Channel 2, a Fox affiliate based in Oakland, for three decades. In June 2021, Somerville took a leave of absence after he appeared to slur his words on-air and struggled to read the script. He said later in a Facebook post that he had taken two Ambien pills by accident.
A few months later, after Gabby Petito was killed by her fiance on a cross-country trip, Somerville was suspended for defying his supervisors by attempting to add racial commentary to a broadcast script about the case, noting that Black women are far more likely to be killed in domestic violence but almost never receive national media attention.
In December 2021, Somerville was arrested on suspicion of DUI after a car collision in Oakland. KTVU decided not to renew Somerville’s contract.
Somerville said in a December 2022 post on Facebook that he didn’t believe that the DUI had any bearing on KTVU’s decision to let him go. He attributed that decision to “a disagreement” and said it came after “an accumulation of a lot of different things, including serious mental health issues.”
Covering the killings of young people in Oakland made him feel like he had post-traumatic stress disorder, he said, adding that he “really needed someone to talk to.”
“But the last thing I was going to do was tell the station that I was hurting,” he wrote. “Main anchors don’t do that. So I tried to deal with it on my own [with] prescription drugs [and] alcohol. It was the worst decision I ever made but I felt that I had no other choice.”
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