A security guard who was shot while protecting a television news crew reporting on a smash-and-grab theft in Oakland has succumbed to his injuries.
On Wednesday, a news crew from television channel KRON4 was covering a story about a recent robbery, where 12 thieves wearing masks and hoods raided a clothing store. At 12.20pm, an assailant allegedly attempted to steal their camera, when the guard, Kevin Nishita, was shot in the lower abdomen.
He was rushed to a hospital in a critical condition where, he underwent surgery. But Nishita, a former police officer and later an armed guard for Star Protection Agency, died on Saturday morning.
Another man standing nearby was hit by bullet shrapnel but is presently in a stable condition after receiving treatment, the Oakland police said.
“We are devastated by the loss of security guard and our friend, Kevin Nishita. Our deepest sympathy goes to Kevin’s wife, his children, his family, and to all his friends and colleagues,” Kron-TV’s vice-president and general manager, Jim Rose, said in a statement.
Nishita had served as a police officer for the cities of Hayward, San Jose and Colma before retiring in 2018. According to the Alameda county sheriff’s office, his body from the hospital was escorted by deputies with full law enforcement honours.
“It’s been an extremely violent week. We are asking if you were in the area, have a business or live nearby to please check your surveillance footage as you may have captured the crime before, during, or after it occurred,” the Oakland police said on Wednesday.
Authorities also released an image of a white car believed to have been used in the shooting. The vehicle is a white 2004 to 2008 Acura TL with a sunroof and no front license plate, police added.
A reward of $32,500 (£24,382) was offered for information leading to an arrest.
Parts of California have been struck by organised band of thieves who are known to carry crowbars and hammers to orchestrate “smash and grab” attacks.
Last Wednesday, a group of thieves raided an Apple store in California’s Santa Rosa and made off with $20,000 (£15,000) in a “brazen” daylight robbery.
Similar thefts were reported in Los Angeles and Beverly Hills. Last Friday, at least eight people stormed a Home Depot store and grabbed hammers, crowbars and sledgehammers before dashing off in a getaway vehicle, the Los Angeles county sheriff’s department said.
Prior to that, a group of 40 to 50 people broke open glass display cases at a jeweller’s shop in Hayward, while others ransacked a Lululemon store and stole about $50,000 (£37,470) in merchandise.
On 20 November, as many as 80 people charged into a Nordstrom branch in the Bay Area suburb of Walnut Creek in a ‘flash mob’, using pepper spray against employees while 25 cars blocked the street outside.
Governor Gavin Newsom has vowed to take action saying: “We want real accountability. We want people prosecuted and we want people to feel safe this holiday season.”
Incidents such as these are not confined to the Bay Area or California but are part of a rising nationwide trend of large, seemingly coordinated, smash-and-grab attacks on high-end stores.
A Louis Vuitton store in suburban Chicago was raided in broad daylight on 1 November with up to $100,000 in products taken. In October the Bottega Veneta store on the city’s Magnificent Miles was also hit by 12 men who stole 35 handbags.
In New York, thieves snatched handbags from the Christian Louboutin store in the West Village at the end of October.