Student shot in armed robbery relinquishes backpack only after he realizes dissertation was saved

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BERKELEY (BCN) Berkeley police today released video footage of a shooting during a robbery last month in hopes that the public can help them identify the two suspects in the case.

KTVU spoke to the 32-year-old male victim on Wednesday. He asked us not to reveal his identity and was shot once in the right thigh. 

Police said the victim was shot by the suspects after he got out of his car in the 1900 block of Vine Street, near Bonita Avenue, at about 9:30 p.m. on Dec. 5.

Police said in the video the victim is seen parking his car on Vine Street and when he gets out of the car the two suspects approach him from behind.

"All of a sudden, the person shows up right next to me and he pulled my bag so I pull it back as a reactive action," the victim said. "The time I decided to let him grab my bag, I was yelling, 'help, please help me.'"

The victim, a graduate student said he initially refused to give up his backpack because it contained his laptop with his dissertation on it. He is getting a PhD in mechanical engineering. 

"The first reaction was to resist because it has the most important writing of my life so the second thought was I have backup," he said. 

The video shows the victim who appears to be focused on retrieving something from his car. One of the suspects grabs his backpack and attempts to pull it away from him, according to police.

A struggle ensues and the victim is shot, police said.

One of the suspect's then drags the victim to the sidewalk while the victim continues to hold onto his bag, according to police.

The suspect then fires his gun two more times at the victim, police said.

Ultimately, the victim releases his grip on the bag and both suspects are seen running south on Bonita Avenue, according to police.

When the victim remembered his dissertation was saved, he let go. He says he feels lucky to be alive.

"I did not burst into tears until the third day so the first and second day...I tried to go back myself and [tried] to remember what actually happened. 

The victim was transported to a local hospital, where he was treated and later released.

Police describe the suspects as a black man between the ages of 20 and 30 years old who has a large build and was wearing a dark hooded sweatshirt and a black man with a thin build who was wearing a black hooded sweatshirt.

The victim said the street was dark and he couldn't see what the suspects looked like and that they didn't say anything to him. 

Police said in the video it appears that the suspects drove into the area in a newer model white sedan, possibly a Chevrolet Impala.

Aman Watson, a neighbor, said she 's lived there for 12 years and that this violent robbery comes as a surprise. "I'll definitely be looking out more. It's really upsetting." 

The student says he plans to continue living in the area and that he's been here six and a half years and that he still considers the area safe. 

Berkeley police said anyone who may have witnessed the shooting or has information about it should call the department's robbery section at (510) 981-5742.

KTVU reporter Amber Lee contributed to this report