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."