Home Cops & Courts San Jose Police link 7-11 killing to violent armed robbery spree, shooting...

San Jose Police link 7-11 killing to violent armed robbery spree, shooting of officer

Police arrested Jonathan Wilbanks, 26, of San Jose in connection with a series of robberies, a murder and wounding of a police officer Friday night. (Courtesy San Jose Police Dept.)

Residents in several San Jose neighborhoods said Sunday they were still shaken following a violent citywide robbery spree that left one man dead and a police officer wounded Friday night.

San Jose Police said 26-year-old Jonathan Wilbanks of San Jose and another unidentified man who police are still searching for began the spree by holding up a Little Caesar’s Pizza Restaurant on the 2800 block of Story Rd. at 7:25 p.m. In each robbery, Wilbanks and the second suspect presented a gun and demanded money from employees.

The pair robbed a gas station on the 1000 block of East Capitol Expressway 15 minutes later. The suspects then struck a Jack-in-the-Box fast food restaurant on the 600 blocks of Curtner Ave. at 8:43 p.m. and a Beauty Spa on the 1400 block of Bird Avenue at 8:58 p.m., police said.

Three minutes later, the suspects’ robbery spree turned deadly when they shot Rory Park-Pettiford, 22, in the parking lot of a 7-11 convenience store on the 400 blocks of S. Kiely Blvd. Park-Pettiford, a San Jose resident, was later pronounced dead at the scene.

Police said an officer spotted the suspects’ car traveling on Interstate 280 near the 101 interchanges about 10 minutes later. He followed it to the intersection of Tully Rd. and Lanai Ave., where without warning, Wilbanks and the unidentified suspect got out of the car and opened fire on the police cruiser, riddling its windshield and hood with gunfire. The 10-year veteran officer was struck by flying glass and fragments from a pepper spray canister which exploded after being struck by a bullet.

San Jose Police Department spokesman Officer Jason Dwyer said the injuries to the unidentified officer were not life-threatening.

A second officer, identified by the department as Officer Bruce Barthelemy, a five year veteran of the force, pulled up in a separate police car and returned fire, striking Wilbanks twice, police said. The suspects got back into the vehicle and led officers on a chase through an East San Jose neighborhood and at one point shot at the pursuing police vehicles.

Police said the passenger of the car jumped out during the pursuit and fled into the neighborhood. Wilbanks continued leading officers on the chase until he crashed the car at the eastern border of Reid-Hillview Airport, in front of the Boys and Girls Club of Silicon Valley.

Wilbanks, wounded by Barthelemy’s gunfire, fled into the residential neighborhood on foot. With the help of the police SWAT team, Wilbanks was arrested without incident and treated for non-life threatening gunshot wounds.

The second suspect was not located and is still being sought, police said. A $10,000 reward for his arrest was doubled Monday morning, city officials announced during a press conference.

Wilbanks was booked into Santa Clara County Jail on suspicion of murder, two counts of attempted murder, four counts of robbery, burglary and auto theft. His first court date is scheduled for Wednesday.

Park-Pettiford’s death is the 42nd homicide of the year in San Jose.

Police are asking the public to call the Silicon Valley Crime Stoppers hotline with information about the second suspect at (408) 947-7867, or submit tips through www.tipsubmit.com.