ANTIOCH — A 15-year-old suspect was killed and the homeowners critically injured in a shootout early Tuesday during a home-invasion robbery targeting a residential marijuana grow, police said.
Police patrol cars scoured the neighborhood near Aster Drive throughout the day, looking for the third suspect.
The couple's 2-year-old son and 10-month-old daughter have been turned over to their grandparents, police said.
Police are investigating whether the homeowners had medical marijuana licenses, and it was unclear how many plants were inside the house, Cantando said. Two bedrooms were set up for marijuana grows, but only one room contained plants, he said.
Neighbors said the homeowners kept to themselves, though they occasionally would play in the frontyard with the older child. Brian Schmid and Dan Black said they were not surprised to hear marijuana was found in the house. Schmid said he often smelled marijuana when parking his car on the street near the house.
Most neighbors near the white, one-story home say they did not hear gunshots, though Black said his dog's barking woke him up.
Maria Moreno, who lives next door, said she heard gunshots and hunkered down in her house. She came out after police arrived.
The neighborhood consists of modest, one-story homes built in the late 1960s.
"For the most part, it's a quiet neighborhood," said Schmid, adding that he hears occasional gunshots, mainly from the direction of a nearby neighborhood off Sycamore Avenue.
More than three years ago, Pittsburg police investigated a similar violent home-invasion robbery involving marijuana in the neighboring East Contra Costa city.
On Jan. 9, 2007, four masked and armed robbers broke into PC World magazine editor Rex Farrance's house in search of cash and marijuana that was being grown for medicinal purposes. Farrance was shot and killed, and his wife pistol-whipped during the attack.
In October, a jury convicted Darryl Hudson, 27, and Montrell Hall, 25, both of Pittsburg, of first-degree murder. Cleothius Termaine Amos, 27, testified against the other two men and received a plea deal calling for a prison sentence of more than 16 years. A fourth suspect remains unidentified.
Residential marijuana grows and accompanying violence are on the rise in Antioch, said police Lt. Leonard Orman.
"I think there is more marijuana out there to be stolen and with some of the loosening of laws, more people are growing it and there's more opportunity," he said. "A marijuana grower is seen as an easier mark than someone dealing meth or cocaine."
Many thieves believe marijuana growers are less likely to be armed or concerned about security, Orman said. Most of the marijuana operations Antioch police come across are run by medicinal card holders, with small grows that are in the "ballpark" of allotted amounts.
But they also come across illegal grows, which often include crudely rigged electrical units that can lead to fires — there have been two marijuana-related structure fires this year in Antioch.
With the increase in grows comes an increase in opportunists, the lieutenant said.
By Matthias Gafni and Paul Burgarino
Contra Costa Times
Posted: 06/08/2010 07:43:39 AM PDT
Updated: 06/08/2010 04:56:56 PM PDT
Dear Drugs-Forum readers: We are a small non-profit that runs one of the most read drug information & addiction help websites in the world. We serve over 4 million readers per month, and have costs like all popular websites: servers, hosting, licenses and software. To protect our independence we do not run ads. We take no government funds. We run on donations which average $25. If everyone reading this would donate $5 then this fund raiser would be done in an hour. If Drugs-Forum is useful to you, take one minute to keep it online another year by donating whatever you can today. Donations are currently not sufficient to pay our bills and keep the site up. Your help is most welcome. Thank you.