A brazen armored car robbery outside a Wells Fargo bank quickly turned into a shootout Wednesday in Pinole, leaving one suspect dead in the street and three other people - a police officer, an armored-car guard and a second suspect - hospitalized with bullet wounds.
The heist unfolded about 9:15 a.m., police said, when two young men tried to rob a Loomis armored car with two guards that had pulled up to a bank in the Pinole Vista Crossing shopping center, just east of Interstate 80.
The suspects are siblings who live in the area, law enforcement sources said. They identified the dead man as Pierre Demarrio Daniel, 25, who was convicted last year of burglary and grand theft and served 45 days in jail, and his wounded brother as 24-year-old Freddie Lee Daniel.
During an initial gunfight, a female guard and at least one of the brothers were shot, prompting someone to call 911 or sound an alarm, said Pinole Police Chief John Hardester. A short time later, two of his officers arrived in cruisers and found Pierre Daniel on nearby Fitzgerald Drive.
One of the officers was soon shot in the shoulder, though it's not clear who fired the shot. The other officer confronted Pierre Daniel, who was down in the street and apparently wounded, said the officer's attorney, Justin Buffington.
The officer, a 10-year veteran who is in his 30s, saw that a semiautomatic pistol was on the ground near the suspect, Buffington said. He said the officer, whom he declined to name, repeatedly shouted orders, including, "Do not touch that gun."
"Then he tried to get up and tried to reach for the gun, despite numerous commands not to," Buffington said. "At that point he the officer feared for his life. The officer had every reason to believe the suspect was going to use the gun to shoot the officer and try to escape.
"He reached for it," Buffington said of the suspect, "and that's when the shots were fired."
Freddie Daniel was driven to nearby Doctors Medical Center in San Pablo by his girlfriend, who had been waiting in a car nearby, according to Buffington and law enforcement sources. He is expected to survive. His girlfriend was questioned by police later in the day but had not been arrested.
Also expected to survive are the wounded police officer, who joined the Pinole force two years ago out of the Air Force, and the armored-car guard, who was also not identified. Both underwent surgery.
The wounded officer did not fire his weapon during the incident, Hardester said.
One witness, 30-year-old Darius Johnson of Richmond, said he was driving into the shopping center parking lot when he saw one of the suspects on Fitzgerald Drive. He said the man had a yellow "bank bag" in his hands, and fell after Johnson heard the sound of gunfire.
According to law enforcement sources, investigators believe the Daniel brothers were also involved in a May 25 Brinks armored car robbery outside a Mechanics Bank in Richmond, near the Hilltop Mall.
In that case, a witness took down a license plate from a fleeing vehicle, leading police to the car's owner and ultimately to several suspects, including Pierre and Freddie Daniel, the sources said.
But charges were filed against just one man, Marquell Dillard, who is now in jail and has pleaded not guilty to second-degree robbery.
In Wednesday's case, prosecutors will have to decide whether to charge Freddie Daniel with murder in connection with the death of his alleged accomplice, under the state's felony murder rule.
The rule specifies that any participant in a dangerous felony that ends in a killing can be found guilty of murder regardless of who fired the fatal shot.