WALNUT CREEK (CBS SF) — Dozens of looters swarmed into the Nordstrom store in downtown Walnut Creek Saturday night, terrorizing shoppers, assaulting employees, ripping off bag loads of merchandise and ransacking shelves before fleeing in a several vehicles waiting for them on the street.
Walnut Creek Lt. Ryan Hibbs told KPIX that three people were in custody and others were being sought.
“Walnut Creek police investigators are in the process of reviewing surveillance footage to attempt to identify other suspects responsible for this brazen act,” authorities said in Sunday morning news release.
Police began receiving calls from Nordstrom employees about the looting at around 9 p.m. He said there were approximately 80 individuals who ran into the store and began looting and smashing shelves.
Two employees suffered injuries when they were assaulted and another was pepper sprayed by the suspects.
Video shot at the scene shows the masked looters streaming out of the store, carrying bags and boxes, jumping into the cars.
Dozens of police vehicles also responded to the scene.
An 18-year-old Oakland man and two people from San Francisco, ages 30 and 32, were taken into custody. Police also seized a gun from one of the suspects.
The male was charged with robbery, possession of stolen property, conspiracy to commit burglary and possession of burglary tools. The female was arrested for unlawful possession of a firearm.
Stolen property from the looting and a firearm was recovered from their vehicle.
A third suspect was caught on foot and arrested. He was also charged with robbery, possession of stolen property, conspiracy to commit burglary and possession of burglary tools.
The police department “is actively monitoring intelligence that indicates the group of thieves who stole from the Broadway Plaza Nordstrom last night are considering similar activity later today,” Walnut Creek police said in a community advisory posted about 3:30 p.m. Sunday on social media.
“This has not been confirmed but, out of an abundance of caution, we’re alerting businesses and residents to be prepared,” police said in the advisory.
The department is calling in additional officers and reserves and some stores may consider closing early or taking other precautions, police said.
Brett Barrette is one of the managers of P.F. Chang’s restaurant across from the Nordstrom store. He watched as the bedlam unfolded.
“I probably saw 50-80 people in like ski masks with crowbars, a bunch of weapons,” he said. “They were looting the Nordstrom.”
“There was a mob of people,” he continued. “The police were flying in. It was like a scene out of a movie. It was insane.”
Barrette also worried about the safety of the diners in his restaurant. Many crowded 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 could come right in here. It was crazy … All the guests inside were getting concerned. It was a scary scene for a moment.”
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