HAYWARD, Calif. - Police in Hayward opened fire and killed a man Tuesday afternoon after he allegedly rammed their vehicles.
It happened just before noon in the parking lot of a Motel 6 on Industrial Parkway near Whipple Avenue.
The man and three passengers were wanted in connection with a string of street robberies.
Throughout the afternoon, the shooting scene was cordoned off.
Two unmarked police cruisers sat nose to nose with a four-door Volvo and all of them appeared to have front-end damage.
"When officers attempted to detain several subjects in the Volvo, the driver accelerated, striking police vehicles multiple times," said Hayward Police Chief Tony Chaplin, at an evening briefing on the incident.
At least three bullet holes were visible in the Volvo's windshield.
Police say the driver, described as a man in his early 20's, was pronounced dead at a hospital.
"I did see one officer working on somebody who was on the ground until they put him on a blanket and moved him toward the ambulance," said motel guest Mark Vance. "This was very frightening for everyone, and a lot of people here have young kids."
Investigators had tracked the car to the motel in connection with a series of street robberies.
Chaplin called the robberies a "plague," and described at least a dozen muggings since December 2020 targeting women alone, sometimes elderly, leaving banks and ATMs.
"With most of them, they are waiting for them to get to the car, then smashing the passenger side window and reaching in to take the purse off the passenger seat," said Chaplin.
But in some cases, victims were assaulted and injured.
Witnesses recalled seeing a blue Volvo sedan with a white paper license plate, and on Monday officers spotted such a vehicle and tried to pull it over, but lost it.
"This particular vehicle was seen casing the same area 24 hours ago," explained Chaplin, "and officers tried to make contact and it ran from them."
Tuesday when they cornered it in the motel parking spot, the violence erupted.
Chaplin said a firearm was recovered from the Volvo but gave no indication it had been fired.
"It's sad, real sad," said motel guest Bridgette Burton, "and just terrible, all these police killings."
Bags of evidence was removed from two motel rooms the suspects apparently stayed in.
The department and the Alameda County District Attorney will gather body-camera video and surveillance footage from the motel, as well as interview witnesses, officers, and the three surviving suspects.
Chaplin would not say how many of his officers fired and how many times.
"We're going to look at the body camera footage and determine exactly what everybody did," he responded.
He does admit firing at moving vehicles goes against protocol.
"We have a strict prohibition against it but with every policy there are exceptions," Chaplin said.