Napa man in coma after savage beating in jewelry store robbery

NAPA, Calif. (KTVU) - A Napa man is fighting for his life after a savage beating during a jewelry store robbery.

Fifty-five-year old Robert "Bob" Porter suffered a heart attack during the assault Monday afternoon.

"They burst through the counter and started hitting him," store owner Kent Gardella told KTVU, "he was face down on the floor and one was on top of him, hitting him."

Napa Valley Jewelers didn't reopen until Thursday, with a steady stream of customers coming by to express concern for Porter.

"Bob wasn't moving, wasn't breathing, and this kid was going on and on hitting him" described Gardella.

In court Wednesday, Napa's District Attorney indicated that 17-year-old Darren Peters will be tried as an adult for attempted murder, along with other felonies.

Peters had an alleged accomplice, also 17, who police say was his lookout, and is also charged as an adult.

Both had run away the night before from a halfway house and school for troubled youth in Nevada City. Peters is from Napa.

"I thought he had a knife because he had something in his hand, I could see it from my office," recounted Gardella.

When Gardella, at his desk, saw the struggle start he hit a panic button connected to police, and reached behind for a mandrill, a metal bar used to measure ring size. He used it to beat the teenager off of his friend.

"I told him I was going to break every bone in his body," said an emotional Gardella, "and he said 'I hope you do, bitch.'"

Empty handed, the teens ran to a nearby parking garage, where they were apprehended.

Gardella performed CPR on Porter until paramedics arrived.

He has been in a medically-induced coma at Queen of the Valley Hospital in Napa.

His wife Robin is a nurse at the same hospital. The couple has two daughters and a son, and two grandchildren under age two.

At the store, cards and flowers have been arriving.

"We were in the store and were greeted by a nice gentleman who cleaned our rings for us," reads one.

Hundreds of emails and Facebook posts are also coming in.

"You are such a fantastic person and I am praying for the best," reads another.

Porter was a baseball star at Napa High School and played in the minor leagues, then two seasons with the Atlanta Braves in the early eighties. Later he turned to the jewelry business, and ended up back in Napa, where he is still well-known.

"We worked very well together, he's so easy to get along with," colleague Debra Dunbar told KTVU. "He's quite humorous at times, a great personality."

Gardella noted, in more than thirty years in the jewelry business, 22 of them in Napa, he had never been robbed before. But he and his staff had talked about never resisting a robbery if it occurred. Sadly, Porter barely had time to react before he was hit, and knocked to the floor.

Gardella said it looked like a pair of pliers in the teenager's hand.

"Dozens of times, he hit him," recalled Gardella, "while Bob was not moving or anything. "

An account has been set up at Bank of Napa to a GoFundMe page is also collecting donations to help the family through this ordeal.