SAN PABLO, Calif. - Contra Costa County sheriff's deputies are investigating the death of a man who was shot and killed by an off-duty UC Berkeley police officer who was dining inside Nation’s Giant Hamburgers on Sunday when a man walked in and tried to rob the place at gunpoint.
As a result, customers were turned away at the restaurant on San Pablo Avenue in San Pablo Sunday night because of what happened earlier in the day.
"A man came in, had a gun and pointed it at us," said the restaurant cashier. "I can't really describe how I feel after that, just shaken up."
KTVU is protecting the identity of the restaurant’s cashier. She said a man wearing a hooded sweatshirt walked inside the hamburger joint around 11:30 a.m.
He then told her to open the cash register. As she looked down, she saw he was holding a gun and feared for her life.
"I was the one talking to him," said the cashier. "He was talking to me. If anyone were to get shot, I would have been the first one to get shot."
Coincidentally, she said a customer was eating at the back of the restaurant. It turns out it was a UC Berkeley police sergeant, who was not on the clock.
"He yelled at him to drop his weapon," said the cashier. "I ran and all I heard was a gunshot. I don’t know how many shots I just heard one."
The suspect was taken to a local hospital where he died. The sheriff’s office identified him as 29-year-old Amanuel Moreno of Richmond.
"I would just give the money because I value my life more," said Ram Umali, Valero Gas Station employee.
Umali said moments prior to the robbery, the station’s camera captured a man in a hoodie walking from Tara Hills Road entering the restaurant. Three minutes later, another man comes out running back and forth to his parked car. Then police arrive.
"It is shocking because I’ve been working here for a long time already and that’s like one of the first times that I heard a robbery," said Umali. "It’s scary right now."
He believes the officer did the right thing.
The restaurant supervisor said she’s shocked for her employees, at least three inside at the time. The company is offering counseling.
The cashier is grateful for the officer’s actions.
"I’ll just say thank you because he was there," said the cashier. "He didn’t know if he was going to get shot. He didn’t know if he could have died at that moment. He just wanted to protect us."
Azenith Smith is a reporter for KTVU. Email Azenith at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Twitter and Instagram @AzenithKTVU or Facebook or ktvu.com.