In the early morning hours of July 4, at 1:18 a.m., an armed man walked into A&L Market on the corner of East Cotati Avenue and Camino Colegio in Rohnert Park and demanded all of the cash out of the market’s cash register.
Employee Raj Kumar was working at the market that evening, which is open until 2 a.m., seven days a week, 365 days a year. He was alone in the store, with no other employees or customers present at the time. Surveillance cameras show the perpetrator, dressed in a hooded sweatshirt, walk through the parking lot on foot and into the market. At the time Kumar was opening one of the coolers in the back of the store. The burglar ran straight to him, pointed the gun into his back and guided him to the register where he forced Kumar to empty all of the cash before sprinting out the front door. The whole incident took less than 30 seconds. No shots were fired and nobody was injured, but $700 was stolen from the register.
“This has never happened before in 12 years of owning this store,” says Gurnam Singh who owns the store with two other family members. “Raj has worked here for five years.”
Rohnert Park Public Safety Officers were dispatched at 1:32 a.m. and the first officers got on scene at 1:34 a.m.
“The officers responded quickly,” says Sergeant Rick Bates from the Rohnert Park Department of Public Safety who responded to the call. “I’m proud of our officers - they did a great job. This is not a normal habit for this neighborhood and is more the exception than the rule here.”
After officers were dispatched to the call they got a quick description of the perpetrator and canvased the area, along with Cotati police officers. There are many apartments in the area and officers only knew that the suspect was headed westbound on East Cotati Avenue.
“It was a bit like finding a needle in a haystack,” says Bates.
No suspects were found that night but Rohnert Park Public Safety detectives are actively working on the case. The suspect is described as being a light skinned black or Hispanic male in his 20’s and was wearing red gloves and a gray hooded sweatshirt.
“This is a very unfortunate thing to happen to a store that is part of a community in which a lot of people, kids and families walk into,” says Gurnam’s brother and co-owner, Harbans Singh. “Convenience stores like us provide a great service to the community being open so late every day. We are the place to go when you forget the milk for your morning coffee, or your child is sick at night and needs medicine.”