(OAKLAND, Calif.) — An intense manhunt was underway on Wednesday in Northern California after a victim was killed on New Year’s Eve when he attempted to chase down the getaway car of the brazen thieves who swiped his laptop computer from a coffee shop in broad daylight, police said.
The death marked the 75th homicide in Oakland, California, in 2019, up from a 19-year low of 62 homicides reported in the Bay Area city of 425,195 people in 2018, according to officials.
Investigators are combing over security video and interviewing witnesses in an attempt to identify the suspects, who could face murder charges when they are captured, police told ABC News on Wednesday.
The New Year’s Eve slaying unfolded about 11:37 a.m. when at least one thief approached the victim who was sitting at a table at a Starbucks in the Montclair neighborhood of Oakland and stole his laptop, police said.
Witnesses told ABC station KGO-TV in San Francisco that the victim, whose name has yet to be released, was working on his laptop near a window when the thieves snatched the computer.
“When the suspect approached and took the laptop the victim chased the suspects right around the corner,” said Officer Johnna Watson, spokeswoman for the Oakland Police Department.
The victim, witnesses said, caught up to the getaway car and may have grabbed onto the door handle in an effort to get his laptop back. As the vehicle accelerated away, the victim apparently lost his grip and was flung head-first into a parked car, witnesses said.
Oakland firefighters who were nearby and witnessed part of the startling crime in the upscale business district rendered medical attention to the victim, who later died at a local hospital, police said.
“He was bleeding only from the head. His face was purple and blue,” Maria Chan, owner of a florist shop in the area, told KGO-TV of seeing the victim lying in the street.
The fatal incident was reminiscent of an August 2017 homicide that occurred in Oakland, in which a local musician, Dave Deporis, chased after thieves who stole his laptop from a coffee shop and was dragged about 200 yards before he fell under the wheels of the getaway car. The 40-year-old Deporis was killed in Oakland’s Temescal neighborhood, about 4 miles from where Tuesday’s deadly confrontation occurred.
At the time, friends of Deporis told reporters he may have chased after the thieves because he had his music, including an unfinished new album, on his laptop.
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