Contra Costa Co. Sheriff's Office 'investigating' why Nordstrom theft suspect was released

ByMelanie Woodrow via KGO logo
Tuesday, November 30, 2021
EMBED <>More Videos

A suspect arrested in connection with a flash-mob style theft at the Walnut Creek Nordstrom appeared in court Monday.

MARTINEZ, Calif. (KGO) -- A suspect arrested in connection with a flash-mob style theft at the Walnut Creek Nordstrom appeared in court Monday. Two more are scheduled to appear in court tomorrow, but were already released from custody according to the Contra Costa County District Attorney and Sheriff's Office.

The Sheriff's Office now says it is investigating why one of the suspects was released.

The Contra Costa County District Attorney's Office says more than 90 people stormed the Nordstrom Department Store in Walnut Creek on November 20 using three separate entrances. Many of them arrived in cars that had no license plates or temporary plates, according to a criminal complaint. There were 25 cars strategically parked in front of the department store preventing emergency crews from accessing the location. Several individuals were armed with weapons including crowbars and hammers.

VIDEO: Brazen flash mob-style robbery of Walnut Creek Nordstrom sparks outrage from city leaders

A criminal complaint filed last week named three of those alleged individuals; Dana Dawson, Joshua Underwood and Rodney Robinson.

The District Attorney says Robinson pleaded not guilty Monday and is still in custody. Dawson and Underwood are scheduled to be arraigned tomorrow but the D.A. said she believed they were out of custody and directed ABC7 News to the Contra Costa County Sheriff's Office to obtain confirmation. Monday evening, ABC7 News confirmed with the Contra Costa County Sheriff's Office that two of the three suspects had been released. According to the DA, Dawson is a previously convicted felon who is charged with using a Glock handgun in connection with the theft.

ABC7 News Reporter Melanie Woodrow asked the D.A., "What do you say to people in the community who are concerned for their safety and don't understand why a suspect like this is no longer being held in custody?"

"Once those charges were filed what happened in terms of the status of her custody is not within the jurisdiction of the District Attorney's Office, it is solely in the discretion of the sheriff's department as to whether she was held in custody," replied Contra Costa County District Attorney Diana Becton.

RELATED: CHP immediately increasing freeway patrols near major CA shopping centers after brazen robberies

ABC7 News reached out to the Contra Costa County Sheriff's Office.

A spokesperson tells ABC7 News, Dawson was eligible for bail which was set at $190,000. She posted bail and was released on November 25.

The spokesperson also says Underwood was released on November 24. Writing in a text to ABC7 News Reporter Melanie Woodrow, "The Sheriff's Office is investigating the circumstances surrounding this release."

ABC7 News Reporter Melanie Woodrow spoke with Underwood's mother by phone earlier today whose son conveyed in the background that he did not know of any upcoming court appearance.

Monday evening, Melanie spoke with Underwood's mother again, who said had it not been for a call from ABC7 News, her son would not have known he had to appear in court Tuesday. She told Melanie after ABC7 News initially contacted her she made a call and discovered, "He was accidentally released from jail."

According to the complaint, at least four Nordstrom employees were injured. One was pepper sprayed, another kicked and punched in the face, another assaulted with a knife and another struck in the head. The group allegedly stole more than $100,000 of merchandise from the store in approximately one minute.

RELATED: Los Angeles retail robbers use chemical spray on security guard

A Nordstrom Spokesperson tells ABC7 News in an emailed statement, "The safety of our employees and customers is always our top priority, and it's important to us that we create a store environment where everyone feels safe and welcome. This includes positioning security personnel inside and outside of our stores and working closely with mall security and law enforcement to anticipate and minimize risk. We also have enhanced training and protocols designed to ensure all our teams feel prepared to respond in the event of a safety incident. Given recent incidents at our stores and incidents across the industry, we're heightening our in-store security presence and implementing additional protective measures to keep everyone safe."

"So it's possible that more people will be apprehended by the Walnut Creek Police Department and if that happens and those cases come into our office again we will prosecute to the fullest extent of the law," said D.A. Becton.