A Rohnert Park smoke shop employee plead ‘not guilty’ to two felony charges of assault with a deadly weapon at his arraignment yesterday, after being arrested for striking a 15-year-old male with his car after the teenager and a 14-year-old stole a marijuana pipe from the Holy Smokes store on Commerce Boulevard.
Adam Richardson, 31, a Windsor resident, allegedly chased after the two boys on foot after confronting the two who had walked into the shop with masks over their faces in the evening hours of July 5, according to a RPDPS press release.
He then, “stopped chasing the juveniles as they ran into Copeland Creek.”
Shortly after, Richardson got into his Jeep Wrangler and proceeded to search for the two minors in the ‘A’ section of Rohnert Park, “since there had been several thefts from the store and he wanted to catch them,” the release says.
Public Safety Sgt. Jeff Justice, who was the officer on the case, said in a phone interview that it’s very unusual for victims of robbery and theft to take the law into their own hands and chase after a suspect.
“It’s pretty rare that business owners or employees or loss prevention officers are going to follow a person who has stolen from a store and go out and try to detain them until we get there, but it’s not often at all that it goes beyond trying to detain someone and calling the police,” Justice said.
Around 6:50 p.m., Richardson then saw the two suspects at the tennis courts in Alicia Park on Santa Alicia Drive and proceeded to chase them with his SUV through the parking lot and accelerated towards them. The same press release says they then turned and ran towards the back of the John Reed Elementary School on Arlen Drive and through A Park, whereupon the disgruntled smoke shop employee proceeded to drive through the grass in the park after them.
He then caught up to the two behind one of the classrooms of the school and as described by the release, “drove his Jeep into the 15-year-old, causing the victim to roll up over the hood and front fender of the Jeep and land on his head on the asphalt pathway,” coming within two feet of the classroom wall and the other boy.
The victims then ran to a friends’ house and were taken to the hospital, where the 15-year-old was later transferred to a local trauma unit to be treated overnight for moderate injuries.
Justice was not able to comment on the nature of the minor’s injuries.
When asked if there was any damage done to A Park or the school, Sgt. Justice said there was little to no damage.
“No, there was none (damage), just tire tracks on the grass,”Sgt. Justice said.
The following day, Richardson was found at his Windsor home and admitted to chasing after the victims and hitting them with his Jeep, and was booked into Sonoma County Jail and according to a criminal docket obtained through the Superior Court of California, County of Sonoma, was set with a $30,000 bail that was later raised to $90,000 after his second court appearance.
The two Rohnert Park minors were arrested for shoplifting and conspiracy to commit a crime and booked into Sonoma County Juvenile Detention Facility.
Sgt. Justice, who said it is often better to wait for the police to enforce the law, urged citizens to take safer precautions when it comes to dealing with suspects in store robberies or thefts.
“What we recommend is that employees or business owners first get the best description possible. A lot of people these days carry cell phones with cameras on them, take pictures of the individuals if they can, or any vehicles they’re fleeing in, including the license plate, whatever information they can to give us the best chance at finding out who they were, or catching them.” Justice said. “Then contact the police immediately. The other thing that we recommend that a lot of businesses have, are surveillance cameras.”
However, Justice emphasized the most important fact that you shouldn’t try to put yourself in danger in any business or residential burglary or robbery.
“I would say to not put yourself in any danger trying to apprehend or detain someone and to not to take the law into their own hands as far as trying to get any retribution,” Justice said.
At his arraignment, Richardson and his defense council, Erick Guzman, “waived time for the preliminary hearing, including 10 day rule,” the courtroom minutes on the docket stipulates, allowing the case to not proceed to trial immediately.
The next court appearance will be held on July 31, where the motion to waive the time of the preliminary hearing will be filed, according to the court docket.
Chief of Rohnert Park Department of Public Safety, Brian Masterson said of this particular case, that it is very unusual to have the victim of a crime later also become a suspect in a crime.
“Yes, you have the right to make a citizen’s’ arrest, but you don’t have the right to hit someone with your car with force,” Masterson said.