The Contra Costa Sheriff’s Office is “investigating the circumstances” around the release of a Nordstrom ransacking suspect, but the suspect’s mother puts it more bluntly, saying "He was accidentally released from jail."
San Francisco is being roasted from coast to coast for the late November Union Square smash-and-grab extravaganza, but frankly, law enforcement handled it pretty effectively. About a third of the suspects were quickly caught and face felony charges, and SFPD claims more arrests are pending. Plenty of other cities suffered similar flash-mob thefts that same weekend, and in some cases, the law enforcement response has been comically inept and has various departments pointing fingers and furiously shifting blame.
#Breaking About 25 cars just blocked the street and rushed into the Walnut Creek Nordstrom making off with goods before getting in cars snd speeding away. At least two people arrested at gunpoint. pic.twitter.com/AG3R94M9L3— Jodi Hernandez (@JodiHernandezTV) November 21, 2021
Consider the case of the Walnut Creek Nordstrom heist, which involved an estimated 80 suspects, a mere three of whom were arrested. And of those, only one is currently in custody. As ABC 7 reports, two of the suspects were released. One of them posted bail of $190,000 and will appear in court. And the other, well, no one’s sure. A spokesperson for the Contra Costa Sheriff’s office says "The Sheriff's Office is investigating the circumstances surrounding this release."
KGO’s Melanie Woodruff has been going through the charges, arraignments, and releases with a fine-toothed comb. When she reached out to the curiously released suspect’s mother, the mother said, "He was accidentally released from jail."
Just in: @CoCoSheriff is investigating the circumstances surrounding the release of 1 of 3 Walnut Creek @Nordstrom theft suspects according to Sheriff’s Office spokesperson. Joseph Underwood’s mother tells me he was “accidentally released from jail.” https://t.co/8PEg7wbF01— Melanie Woodrow (@MelanieWoodrow) November 30, 2021
Granted, this an unverified, third-party version of events from a suspect’s mom. And that suspect is scheduled to appear in court again today. But it’s the only straight answer Woodruff got after going through official channels of the Contra Costa DA’s office and the sheriff’s department.
I do not know that charges were dropped. That’s what 1 suspect & his mom are saying. I spoke w/ the DA’s Office & their computer system doesn’t say that. The person I spoke to wasn’t able to get a hold of the attorney prosecuting the case. Interviewing the DA at 3 & will update https://t.co/mNOvpmubvg— Melanie Woodrow (@MelanieWoodrow) November 29, 2021
And Walnut Creek mayor Kevin Wilk is up in arms over those offices playing hot-potato with the suspect’s status. “This is unacceptable,” he told KGO. “We have the highest profile story outside of COVID in the entire country, and our offices here in the county are not communicating with each other on what is happening to criminals that have been arrested.”
"This is unacceptable. We have the highest profile story outside of Covid in the entire country..." Walnut Creek Mayor @kevinwilk on @CoCoSheriff investigating circumstances re: release of defendant Joshua Underwood in @Nordstrom flash-mob style theft https://t.co/UKBQOi07f7 pic.twitter.com/MSdkz2BuYg— Melanie Woodrow (@MelanieWoodrow) November 30, 2021
Who knows, this may all get sorted out today. Both released suspects are scheduled to appear in court today, and maybe they will, and maybe the release will be fully explained. But for now, the San Francisco DA and police response to our flash-mob robberies is less of a flashing red light than whatever’s going on in Contra Costa County.
Image: Meg T. via Yelp