Charges filed against man in Alamo hardware store robbery, related carjackings

MARTINEZ — A 30-year-old man, who was already facing prosecution in an earlier shoplifting case, has been charged with four felonies in connection to a case that started Nov. 24 with a robbery at a Blackhawk hardware store, authorities said Tuesday.

Philander Johnson, whose place of residence was not released, has been charged with robbery, assault with a deadly weapon and two counts of carjacking for kidnapping, the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office said.

The charges stem from a Nov. 24 suspected crime spree which began at the Ace Hardware in Blackhawk and culminated in Johnson’s arrest in San Ramon, prosecutors said.

“This brazen crime spree is a flagrant violation of community safety,” said District Attorney Diana Becton. “My office is working in a coordinated effort with law enforcement partners throughout the Bay Area to identify perpetrators of organized retail theft. Those who engage in such criminality will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law by the Contra Costa District Attorney’s Office.”

According to prosecutors, Johnson and two unidentified individuals entered the Blackhawk Ace Hardware and attempted to flee with several power tools in hand. When confronted by store staff, Johnson brandished a knife and got away, prosecutors said.

Separated from his accomplices, Johnson proceeded into a nearby parking lot and entered the car of an unwitting motorist. Johnson held the driver at knife point and commanded the victim drive him out of the immediate area.

Johnson was driven to nearby San Ramon, where he abandoned the first carjacking victim to enter a second occupied vehicle. Johnson threatened the unwitting occupant to drive him away. Law enforcement in the area were able to observe the suspicious nature of the activity and conducted a traffic stop, rescuing the driver and apprehending Johnson, prosecutors said.

Johnson was out of custody pending adjudication of an unrelated shoplifting case which had previously been filed in August 2021, prosecutors said. Details about that case were not immediately available nor were details about how he was released from custody in that case. Johnson is currently in custody awaiting arraignment.

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Author: Harry Harris