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Charges filed in Alamo jewelry store robbery

Officials from the Contra Costa County District Attorney's Office filed multiple charges Wednesday against a 50-year-old Alamo resident in connection with the recent attempted robbery of the Alamo Jewelry Mart that ended in two people being shot.

Thomas Paul Bennett has been charged with attempted murder, attempted robbery, second degree commercial burglary and possession of a silencer. In addition, Deputy District Attorney Bruce Flynn said two enhancement charges were also filed against Bennett: use of a gun in the commission of a crime and inflicting great bodily injury on a person during the commission of a crime.

Bennett is charged in the Dec. 3 evening incident in which he allegedly armed himself with three guns and attempted to rob the Jewelry Mart in the multi-story building on the edge of Alamo Plaza. In the course of the robbery, both Bennett and Jewelry Mart owner Oscar Herrera were injured by gunfire.

Contra Costa County Sheriff's Capt. Daniel Terry said deputies were called to the scene after witness reported gunshots. On arrival, they were able to get the injured Herrera to safety, however Bennett refused to surrender.

"He had picked up the gun and was holding it to his head," Terry recounted. "At the time he was saying he had nothing to live for, he'd been financially destroyed. He was kind of holding himself hostage, but our deputies were able to talk to him and finally coax him into putting down the weapon."

Both men were transported to John Muir Medical Center in Walnut Creek. Terry said Herrera was wounded in the chest and abdomen and was expected to be released this week. The Alamo Chamber of Commerce newsletter sent out Friday afternoon said Herrera was "out of the hospital and on the mend."

Bennett suffered wounds to the wrist, neck and mouth. As of Wednesday, he was still listed in critical but stable condition.

Terry said Bennett remains under police guard at the hospital, but his injuries have so far prevented police from conducting a full interview. When Bennett's condition improves to the point where he can be released, he will be taken into custody and formally charged with the crimes.

"Based on these charges, it's unlikely he would go anywhere other than jail when he is released," Terry stated.

Terry described Bennett as an avid gun enthusiast, based on the results of a search warrant executed at the suspect's home in Alamo.

"We removed a whole cache of weapons from the home," Terry said. "Everything from hunting rifles to handguns. He had a fascination with guns and the fact that he armed himself with three to go into the business speaks a lot."

Comments

 +   Like this comment
Posted by Gunslinger .45
a resident of Danville
on Dec 12, 2009 at 11:19 am

You hear that folks. Cop Terry and the Danville Weakly want you to focus on gun ownership as a corollation to armed robbery. They never wish you to corollate group homes, or illegal immigrants, or anything else except for that which is statistically white- such as LEGAL gun ownership and enthusiasm. I am no hunter, no threat to good people, but as a gun owner I'm happy to say I'm threatening to criminals.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Gunslinger .45
a resident of Danville
on Dec 12, 2009 at 11:26 am

PS: if Herrera wasn't armed, he might be dead. The suspect had a silencer. Chances are he was not gonna let Herrera live. He would silently execute the only witness and be gone, but he was met in kind


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Gunslinger .45
a resident of Danville
on Dec 12, 2009 at 11:31 am

Everyone read the sfgate article on this story. They tell how Herrera was saved by his gun ownership.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Kim
a resident of Danville
on Dec 13, 2009 at 12:20 am

No threat to good people until your over the top remarks get out of hand, Gunslinger. Do people like you really live in this town? Glad you're not my neighbor, Mr. Level Headed. All is good until you looooossssssseeeeeeee it....


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Gunslinger .45
a resident of Danville
on Dec 13, 2009 at 11:12 am

I assure you sweetheart, I am absotively, posolutely not a threat to the non-criminals of this town. So give it a rest. I am a peaceful man. I wouldn't harm an animal with undue cause, let alone a human. However, I'm neither a fool nor a coward. So I will protect myself, arm myself, even less for me than for those I love


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Treebeard
a resident of Diablo
on Dec 13, 2009 at 9:04 pm

I thinks maybe this was a planned suicide attempt from the beginning in order to collect insurance money for his family. Nothing else makes much sense.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by cardfark
a resident of Diablo
on Dec 14, 2009 at 7:56 am

Aw, gs, we know you were hopin' for a hoodie-n-baggy-pants-wearin' Somali/Mexican illegal group-home-livin' pirate with a wad of bills in the front pocket, bags of crack falling out the back and a boombox on his shoulder, but is that really the best you can do?

Maybe You need the rest?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by SuzieQ
a resident of Danville
on Dec 14, 2009 at 8:29 am

Let's see-rich man who loves to collect weapons loses his wealth and he goes postal on a fellow businessman, and Gunslinger is worried about some poor guy from the "hood" or some "illegal" invading his perfect neighbohood. Maybe it's time for a reality check. Wonder how many of those upstanding, BMW driving white guys, collect arsenal of weapons? Hope they keep them away from their perfect socker playing children! Rather than worrying about all those "illegals" invading our territory, maybe we should be worried about the homes we allow our children to visit.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by GREG
a resident of Danville
on Dec 14, 2009 at 8:46 am

He had a silencer on the gun for a reason.........He was out to kill!!! He is a selfish spoiled idiot that needs to be put to death. How stupid was he, if he needed money that bad he could have robbed a bank. Better yet why not sell the airplane and the wine in his wine cellar or maybe even find a few jobs.....VERY SELFISH IDIOT!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Ralph N
a resident of Alamo
on Dec 14, 2009 at 8:51 am

Selfish with an attitude to match. Guess he and his family won't be looking down on their "less fortunate" neighbors now.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Hal Bailey
a resident of another community
on Dec 14, 2009 at 8:56 am

Dear Dolores,

More "Disgustion" rather than discussion? More attacks on authors rather than thoughtful comment on the story and its issues?

It does seem that Gina Allen needs to explain the selective application of Terms of Use for her EXPRESS Forum.

Hal


 +   Like this comment
Posted by SuzieQ
a resident of Danville
on Dec 14, 2009 at 9:41 am

Scary stuff! Sounds like Mr. Dick is just about ready to go postal himself. Perhaps the police need to pay him a visit before it's too late.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Linda
a resident of Alamo
on Dec 14, 2009 at 9:54 am

Absolutely Tragic! Most of us in this area have become so dependent on our stuff, award winning schools, and status, and don't think about how in the blink of an eye, it can all be gone. I can't imagine what sort of desperation a person must feel to resort to robbing, and possibly killing another human being. My heart aches for the family. Let's all think hard about what priorities we have set for ourselves.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Alamo Resident
a resident of Alamo
on Dec 17, 2009 at 12:27 pm

The wife and teenage daughter are great people. They lost there home, their dad went crazy and is in coma as he tried to kill someone and himself. And now it's the holidays. I feel very bad for them. They are having a rough time. I hope the community really supports the family as this was not their fault and they don't deserve this to happen to them.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by JTanner
a resident of Danville
on Dec 18, 2009 at 8:27 am

Besides Sarah Palin, how many women are rabid gun collectors?
The robber is 100% at fault and everything resulted as a consequence of his actions. However, what were the consequences of the store owners actions when he went for his gun? Of the possible outcomes after the situation was over: 1) robbed and dead, 2) robbed and shot and seriously injured, 3) robbed and shot at but not injured, 4) Not robbed but dead, 5) Not robbed but seriously injured, 6) Not robbed but shot at 7) Not robbed by talking the robber out of his actions and 8) Robbed, alive, robber escapes without harm to be chased down by police.
This is just me, but if I were in BOTH their shoes, I would not have reached for a gun.
Other questions, if you have insurance as a jewelry store owner, why would you reach for a gun? If you don't have insurance, why would you reach for a gun?
None of us where there to hear the spoken words or inside the robbers or store owners minds. I wonder if there were a clear indication that no matter what the robber was going to kill him. If there were, we all know that reaching for the gun was all the store owner could do to save his own life.
How many times in these kind of robberies does the perpetrator shoot to kill? Certainly not 100%. I am sure that some in law enforcement can give a better idea.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Dick P
a resident of Danville
on Dec 18, 2009 at 9:35 am

For the record, every wife I've ever had loved my guns and sometimes even bought some of their own. My wife Mirabelle had a Cabela's credit card for that exact purpose. And for the record, if in any situation ever, I WOULD reach for my gun, and I DO shoot to kill. Thank you.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Ray K
a resident of Danville
on Dec 18, 2009 at 9:40 am

J Tanner ... You raise many questions and you conclude "...I wouldn't have reached for a gun ..." Well, with the armed robber coming in and facing you as the store employee .... we'd be reading your obit today.

It was no accident he came prepared with a silencer on the revolver.

With his big Alamo home (Google it) in foreclosure, this robber is no dummy; he probably figured out the security / camera systems and was prepared to take over the store and dismantle any video evidence ... as well SILENCE the lone witness.

Life today doesn't come with clear-cut options; the jewelry store employee is alive today for his efforts to protect self & property.

Take away guns from citizens leaves only a few people with them .... do we really want those people (criminals) to be the only ones with guns?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Tanner
a resident of Danville
on Dec 31, 2009 at 8:49 am

The shop owner was bagging the robber's wife.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Myron R.
a resident of Danville
on Jan 25, 2010 at 11:37 pm

Some of you people know squat about guns. I'm glad you don't own any. You make better human shields for the rest of us.


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