An apparent attempt to snatch a laptop from a customer at a downtown Lafayette coffee house did not end as expected for the would-be thieves Monday.
Eyewitnesses and outright participants in what some described as a “battle Royale” on the street outside The Coffee Shop gave the following account of events:
“I was dining outside at Chow and this car pulled up (didn’t see from where) and stopped on Lafayette Circle facing northbound (towards roundup) right across from the Cooperage with 4 black male occupants,” one witness said Tuesday. “Two of them (teenagers or early 20s, 6 ft height, solid build) with dark pants and sweatshirts with hoods up got out and started walking down the sidewalk of “The Coffee Shop” looking at tables. Looked very out of place for a 90 degree day.”
Witnesses reported one of the men returning to the car while another “walked into the outdoor seating area and snatched a woman’s laptop and hit her in the face and started running back towards the car.”
A man in cyclist gear who was at the cafe physically tried to stop the attacker and another witness, who had seen the “set up” developing, jumped in – “dragging the guy to the ground and were trying to hold him down but he was strong and fighting hard to get away, then the other two passengers from the car (also black males in dark hoodies 6 foot-ish) ran over and started punching us to defend their robber accomplice.”
One Samaritan was punched in the face at least once. The “cyclist” apparently left the scene shortly after the assault and his condition was not known.
Witnesses said the three would-be thieves ran back to the car and the driver who was waiting gunned it at high speed past the Roundup and up Oak Hill towards the freeway, almost running over civilian rescuers.
“I think he ran the red light at Mt Diablo Boulevard,” one witness reported. “In the scuffle, the robber dropped the laptop and the girl got it back, so nothing was taken.”
One civilian participant summed the incident thusly:
“This was a violent attempted robbery in broad daylight in the middle of downtown Lafayette on Memorial Day. Totally crazy, brazen and methodical. The whole ordeal took under 2 mins. Cops showed up about 5 mins after. This was a “textbook” incident from what I’ve been seeing in the news lately: paper plates, young guys in hoodies, unsuspecting cafe patrons on laptops. Cops said its basically impossible to track down the vehicle since it has paper plates.”