Oakland Laptop Homicide

‘It Was Like a Movie’: Man Dies After Chasing Laptop Thief in Oakland

Witnesses recount the traumatic scene that unfolded Tuesday in Oakland's Montclair neighborhood.

Police said they have arrested two of the three suspects tied to a man's death after the victim attempted to prevent a laptop theft in Oakland.

Wednesday's arrests come a day after a man at a Starbucks in the city's Montclair neighborhood chased after a thief who had snatched his laptop.

Julie, who did not want to provide her last name, witnessed the incident.

What started out as a quick coffee run ended with traumatic images Julie plays over and over again in her mind.

"I walked up to him and you kind of instantly knew it wasn't good, it was very sad," she said.

Police said they have arrested two of the three suspects tied to a man's death after the victim attempted to prevent a laptop theft in Oakland. Bob Redell reports.

Around 11:37 a.m. Tuesday, Julie said she was inside the Starbucks on Mountain Boulevard. Next to her was a quiet, young man with eyes focused on his laptop.

Though his name hasn’t been released by officers because they’re working on contacting his family, friends say that young man was in his mid-30s and worked for a tech company.

All of a sudden, Julie said a man in a dark hoodie came in and snatched the computer away.

"The guy was like 'Hey!' It was such a scramble, it was literally like a movie," she said.

Julie said the thief rushed into a dark SUV right around the corner on Antioch Street. The owner of the laptop was right on his tail.

"It was like a Superman-type dive," she said. "He made it pretty far into the car. I was pretty surprised and I thought, 'Oh, he might get it back!'"

But he never did.

Instead, Julie said the man clung onto the vehicle and whoever was behind the wheel pressed on the gas.

"It was like his arm was up and his head was being dragged against the concrete," she said. "It was so awful."

About a block away, Aaron Reams was crossing the street with his daughters when he said he made eye contact with the masked driver of the getaway car.

"He looked genuinely scared to me," said Reams, who is visiting from North Carolina. "I think he got more than he expected in committing that crime."

The executive director of the Montclair Village Association said one of their surveillance cameras caught the license plate of the getaway car. They shared those images with Oakland police, which allowed investigators to find two of the three suspects.

Oakland police have yet to release the victim's identity.

The city council member for the Montclair district said even though there's an officer assigned to patrol the area, officers are stretched thin. She said it is a topic she will bring up to the city council later this month.

Peter Tseng of Oakland said the victim was excited to host a New Year’s Eve party that night because it also happened to be his birthday.

“It’s just so tragic that you lose your life over a laptop,” Tseng said.

Neighbors are organizing a vigil this Sunday at 11:30 a.m. just outside of the Starbucks where the laptop theft happened.

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