Orinda police are looking for suspects in Halloween masks who they say shot a woman twice during an armed robbery and pistol-whipped her husband Monday.
The affluent city in Contra Costa County is routinely among the top 10 safest towns in California — a fact that led the victims to initially believe they were being pranked.
"We actually thought it was my son and his buddy doing a pre-Halloween prank on us," Tom Spalding said.
But then he saw the gun.
Spalding and his wife Carol Brown, the Orinda Union School District board vice president, picked up groceries at a Safeway, before heading to their home about a mile away. Police say two men allegedly followed the couple to their driveway and held them at gunpoint while they were unloading groceries.
One of the suspects said, "Give it up," according to Spalding, who handed over his wallet.
Spalding, 63, was then pistol whipped, but Brown, 70, was shot "through the pelvis" and "in the upper arm," he said.
"I got down and put pressure to the arm wound, which was the one that was bleeding more profusely," Spalding said.
In a note to the community on Next Door, Police Chief Mark Nagel said that the couple's son called dispatch to say that his mother had been shot in the left arm and lower hip during the robbery on Claremont Avenue.
"My dad runs inside the house bleeding, saying they shot my mom," said Micah Spalding, the couple's son.
Micah Spalding quickly dialed 911, but the suspects fled.
"They must have had a car because they got away really quickly," he said.
The pair was taken to John Muir Medical Center in Walnut Creek, police said. Brown is said to be in stable condition and Tom Spalding was treated at the hospital and released.
Meanwhile, officers secured the crime scene, Nagel said.
"We had CHP, additional agencies, K-9s, air support in an attempt to locate the suspects," he said.
Nagel echoed Micah Spalding's thoughts on a possible getaway car because officers "did not find them."
Nagel did not say how many suspects there were, only that they had been wearing masks and were seen running away with a wallet and a purse. Investigators are now going through surveillance footage to see if they can identify the suspects, he said.
The Spalding family is working with police to offer a reward for information that yields arrests.
For his part, Tom Spalding said he never imagined experiencing such an ordeal in their quiet neighborhood.
"That’s why we thought it was a joke," he said. "Truth be told, ... stuff never happens here."
People with information are asked to call the Orinda Police Department at 925-254-6820 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Anonymous tips can be left via voice message at 866-846-3592.