Alamo shooting victim talks exclusively to ABC7

December 11, 2009 7:00:19 PM PST
The owner of an Alamo jewelry store involved in a shootout last week talked to ABC7 about what happened. Thomas Bennett, the man accused of robbing that store, has now been formally charged with attempted murder and robbery. He's still in critical condition.

An Alamo jewelry store owner told ABC7 that Thomas Bennett, the suspect in last week's shooting had asked him to order some expensive diamonds for him, just days before the incident.

Store owner Oscar Herrera told ABC7, Bennett claimed his construction business was doing so well, he wanted to buy his wife a larger diamond, somewhere in the 4 to 4.5 carat range.

"He (Bennett) came in and said he wanted a bigger diamond for his wife's ring?that he was doing really well," Herrera told ABC7. Herrera, recovering from gunshot wounds, said Bennett had visited his store once before to get replacement batteries for two watches.

According to Herrera on the night of December 3, Bennett showed up to look at the diamonds, but then became upset about the price. Contra Costa Sheriffs say the heavily-armed Bennett then tried to rob the store, which led to a shootout with Herrera and lengthy standoff with police.

"It looks as though he was suffering some financial difficulties," said Captain Daniel Terry of Bennett. County records reveal the week before the shooting, Bennett's $2.5 million dollar home went into foreclosure and was scheduled for auction.

Captain Terry told ABC7, Bennett brought three guns with him that night, including one with a silencer. Herrera was shot in the abdomen but still managed to use his own revolver to wound Bennett, before Herrera ran from the store.

Police found a cache of weapons, including at least a dozen rifles and handguns and a large amount of ammunition at Bennett's home.

Bennett is still in critical condition at John Muir Hospital, with a bullet lodged in his neck, near his spine.

He's charged with attempted murder, robbery and commercial burglary, including a special enhancement for using a gun with a silencer.

According to Deputy District Attorney Bruce Flynn, investigators found that the license plates on the truck Bennett drove that night had been removed and they found a videotape in his home, with instructions on how to survive a gun battle.

A Bennett family member, who did not want to give her name, told ABC7 "The whole incident is tragic and everyone involved has our sympathy."


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