Citizen heroes shot while aiding robbery victim in Pinole

Citizen heroes shot while aiding robbery victim in Pinole
Photo of citizen heroes (in middle) courtesy of the City of Pinole.

The City of Pinole on Tuesday recognized two citizen heroes who were shot while trying to aid the victim of a robbery in the city in December.

The good Samaritans, identified by the city as Jose Hernandez and Norman Montiel-Garay, each received the Pinole Police Department Community Valor Award for intervening to help a fellow citizen in distress on Dec. 27.

“In a day and age when civilians would rather take a picture or hold a camera up instead of actively getting involved and helping people, these two individuals stood up, and they really defined a true act of heroism and bravery that day,” said Pinole Police Chief and Interim City Manager Neil Gang.

The incident unfolded at 12:20 p.m. on Dec. 27, when Pinole police dispatch received a call from the Chevron gas station at 2695 Pinole Valley Road. The dispatcher heard a loud argument before the call disconnected, police said.

While officers responded, several other callers reported that a robbery had just occurred, that two people had been shot and that the suspect fled north toward Jack in the Box. 

Police would soon learn the suspect attempted to make a purchase at the gas station convenience store, but argued with the clerk after his transaction was declined and attempted to open the cash register. Police said the suspect then ripped the register off the counter, and also the cables from the business telephone, before exiting the store.

Once outside, the suspect attempted to carjack a vehicle in the Chevron lot, but the victim managed to get away, police said. The suspect then reportedly went over to a car at one of the pumps, broke out a passenger door window and snatched a purse from the front seat.

The purse’s owner attempted to retrieve her purse from the suspect, leading to a struggle during which the suspect hit her multiple times and knocked her to the ground, according to police.

The good Samaritans saw her struggling and were both shot by the suspect while intervening.

The suspect, identified as 21-year-old Demetrius Chafford of Fairfield, fled on foot toward the Jack in Box and threw his firearm into the bushes. Police say he tried to carjack two more vehicles as he continued running north on Pinole Valley Road, but was taken into custody by responding officers.

Chafford was booked into jail on multiple felony charges including two counts of attempted murder.

“I think the community will agree this is a true act of bravery,” Interim City Manager Gang said. “We were lucky you were there that day, and you saved lives.”

Pinole City Council members also praised the heroes for their courage.

“From the bottom of our hearts, we are truly grateful for your actions,” said Vice Mayor Cameron Sasai. “You set an incredible exdample for your family, for young peole, for an entire community on how to care for all of us.”