WALNUT CREEK (CBS SF) – Dozens of looters flocked to the Nordstrom store in downtown Walnut Creek on Saturday night, scaring shoppers, attacking employees, ripping off bags of merchandise and looting shelves, and fleeing with several vehicles waiting on the street.
Walnut Creek Lieutenant Ryan Hibbs told KPIX that three people are in custody and others are being sought.
“Walnut Creek police investigators are in the process of reviewing the surveillance footage to try to identify other suspects responsible for this brazen act,” officials said in a Sunday morning news release.
Police began receiving calls from Nordstrom employees about the looting around 9pm. He said there were about 80 people who ran into the store and started looting and smashing the shelves.
Two employees who were attacked were injured, and one employee was sprayed with pepper gas by the suspects.
In the video taken at the scene, masked looters rush out of the store, carrying bags and boxes, and jumping into cars.
A large number of police vehicles also intervened at the scene.
An 18-year-old Oakland man and two others, aged 30 and 32, from San Francisco, were detained. The police also confiscated the gun of one of the suspects.
The man was charged with theft, possession of stolen property, conspiracy to steal, and possession of burglary tools. The woman was arrested for possession of an unlicensed weapon.
A firearm was seized from the stolen property and vehicle from the looting.
The third suspect, who was caught on foot, was arrested. He was also charged with robbery, possession of stolen property, conspiracy to commit theft, and possession of burglary tools.
In a community advisory posted on social media around 3:30 p.m. Sunday, Walnut Creek police said the police department is “actively monitoring intelligence that shows that the group of thieves who stole from Broadway Plaza Nordstrom last night is considering similar activity today.”
“This has not been confirmed, but we are warning businesses and residents to be prepared to be very careful,” police said in the advisory.
Police said the department is seeking additional officers and reservists and that some stores may consider closing early or taking other measures.
Brett Barrette is one of the managers of PF Chang’s restaurant across from the Nordstrom store. He watched as the bedlam unraveled.
“I saw probably 50-80 people in ski masks with levers, a lot of guns,” he said. “They were looting Nordstrom.”
“There was a crowd,” he continued. “The police were flying in. It was like a scene from a movie. It was crazy.”
Barrette was also concerned about the safety of diners at her restaurant. Many gathered around the windows to watch the looters flee.
“I had to start locking the front door,” he said. “Locking the back door. You never know, they might come in here. It’s crazy… All the guests inside were worried. For a moment, it was a scary scene.”
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