Masked men armed with an assault rifle shot an armored car guard outside of a Chase Bank branch in Windsor on Tuesday during a brazen daylight robbery at a busy shopping complex, sparking a massive manhunt that spilled over into Napa County and more gunfire aimed at a police officer in Calistoga, where residents were ordered on lockdown during an hourslong search that spanned the small city.
The stunning outbreak of violence took place shortly before 2 p.m. at the crowded Safeway Lakewood shopping center. A Loomis guard who had exited the bank with bags of money was shot multiple times by an assailant with an assault rifle that initial reports indicated was an AK-47.
About 30 minutes later, after the two men fled in a vehicle, one of the two suspects was taken into custody after he opened fired on a Calistoga police officer on a residential street in the Napa County community.
The officer, who was not hit by gunfire, rammed the man with his patrol car, according to Napa County Sheriff’s Capt. Keith Behlmer. The suspect was identified as Serge Gutsu, 24, from Antelope, Calif. The severity of his injuries was not immediately disclosed.
During the encounter, the second robbery suspect bailed out of an Chevy SUV and ran, prompting an intense search across Calistoga that included SWAT teams from Napa and Sonoma counties. Law enforcement teams fanned out in the city with dogs and two armored vehicles while Henry 1, the Sonoma County sheriff’s helicopter, and the CHP’s helicopter hovered overhead.
The second suspect, Ivan Morales, 23, of Lakeport, was arrested about 7 p.m. after SWAT members found him in a creek bed behind the Rancho de Calistoga mobile home park. The arrest brought relief to Calistoga residents who had been ordered to shelter in place or were prevented from returning to their homes for nearly five hours.
Both men were booked into the Sonoma County Jail, arrested on suspicion of attempted murder, robbery and conspiracy. They were being held without bail.
Authorities recovered two firearms in Calistoga following the confrontation between the police officer and the suspects. They did not provide any additional details about the guns.
Sonoma County sheriff’s officials also did not provide an update on the condition of the wounded guard, who was rushed to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital. Sources close to the investigation said he was shot 3 to 4 times.
The armed robbery, the latest in a string of armored car heists dating back decades in Sonoma County, occurred about 1:50 p.m. at the Safeway shopping center at Brooks and Lakewood roads in Windsor. Witnesses at the center said the sound of gunfire prompted many people to run for cover or throw themselves to the ground. Well after the incident, some were still in disbelief at what occurred.
“I thought it must be hammering, it’s not something you would expect; even though it’s a busy shopping center, it’s a quiet town,” said Daniel Theriot, 18, of Santa Rosa who was in a UPS store when the shots rang out.
Cop cars streamed into the parking lot just as Tyler Ross, 19, of Windsor was showing up for his shift at BurtoNZ Bakery. At first he thought he was being pulled over. But once he parked, he saw a woman running down the sidewalk outside the bakery, coming from the direction of the Chase Bank.