ASSOCIATED PRESS and RAFU REPORTS
OAKLAND — A security guard has died after he was shot while he protected a San Francisco Bay Area television news crew covering a smash-and-grab theft, part of a rash of organized retail crime in the region.
“We are devastated by the loss of security guard and our friend, Kevin Nishita. Our deepest sympathy goes to Kevin’s wife, his children, his family, and to all his friends and colleagues,” KRON-TV’s vice president and general manager, Jim Rose, said in a statement issued Saturday.
Nishita was an armed guard for Star Protection Agency and provided security for television news crews in the region, who are often targeted by robbers for their equipment.
He was shot in the abdomen during an attempted robbery of KRON-TV’s camera equipment on the 300 block of 14th Street near downtown Oakland on Wednesday, police said.
The news crew was covering a recent robbery where a group of thieves broke in and stole from a clothing store.
A reward of $32,500 is being offered for information that leads to an arrest in Nishita’s killing. Donations increased the amount of the reward.
The Oakland Police Department released a surveillance photo of a vehicle they believe was used in the crime. The suspect vehicle is a 2004-2008 Acura TL, white, four-door, with a sunroof and no front license plate.
The OPD noted, “This unfortunate loss of life marks the City of Oakland’s 126th life lost to violence [in 2021].”
Nishita was a police officer for the cities of Hayward, San Jose, and Colma before retiring in 2018. The Alameda County Sheriff’s Office said deputies escorted his body from the hospital with full law enforcement honors, including a flag-draped casket.
“This senseless loss of life is due to yet another violent criminal act in the Bay Area. We hope that offering a reward will help lead to the arrest of those responsible so they can face justice for this terrible tragedy,” Rose said.
The San Jose Police Department released the following statement on Nov. 27: “It is with great sadness and broken hearts that we are sharing the news of the passing of former San Jose Police Officer Kevin Nishita #3740. On Nov. 24, 2021, Kevin was working a security detail for a local news crew in the City of Oakland when he was shot during an attempted robbery. He was taken to a local hospital with a life-threatening injury, he remained in critical condition until today. when he succumbed to his injury.
“Kevin was employed by the City of San Jose as a police officer from 2001-2012. During his time with us he worked as a Gang Investigations detective as well as working our Gaming/Vice Unit. In addition to his police assignments, Kevin also spent some time representing his peers as a director with the San José Police Officers Association. In 2012 he joined the Colma Police Department.”
San Jose Chief of Police Anthony Mata said, “We are heartbroken and mourning the passing of retired Colma Police Department Sgt. Kevin Nishita. Kevin was part of our San José Police family for 11 years wearing the San José Police patch with great pride.
“His contagious smile, passion to serve others, and an unmatched work ethic embodied the best of all of us. As a patrol officer, gang detective, and as a person, Kevin modeled bravery, kindness, and dedication helping make San Jose a better place for everyone.
“We must work together and stay committed to stop senseless violence and the loss of precious life and hold those committing these acts accountable.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the Nishita family during this difficult time as we honor Kevin’s memory. Our flags will remain at half-staff until his funeral.”
The San Jose Police Department said, “Our sincerest condolences to the Nishita family. He leaves behind a wife, children, and grandchildren. He touched many of us and will not be forgotten by those us who still called him friend at the San José Police Department. Godspeed.
“The Oakland Police Department is investigating this incident now as a homicide. Anyone with information is asked to Oakland PD Homicide Section at (510) 238-3821 or Crime Stoppers at (510) 777-8572. You can remain anonymous.
“Crime Stoppers of Oakland, and the Oakland Police Department, are offering a reward of up to $27,500 leading to the arrest of the individual or individuals involved in this crime.”
Mike Inouye, traffic anchor at NBC Bay Area in San Jose, posted, “There is a line in the Jodo Shinshu Buddhist gatha ‘Golden Chain’ that goes, ‘I will try to be kind and gentle to every living thing and protect all who are weaker than myself.’
“On Saturday morning we lost a man who provided security for my friends in the news business, a police officer who provided safety for communities around the Bay Area, a husband, father and grandfather who was everything to his family, and a member of our Buddhist Sangha.
“Officer Kevin Nishita lived and died exemplifying this Buddhist gatha.”
The Colma Police Department’s statement read, in part: “Kevin came to the Colma Police Department in February 2012, after working with both the San Jose and Hayward Police Departments. He served in Colma until his retirement in 2018. During his six years with our department, Kevin served as a detective, field training officer, officer in charge, and was promoted to sergeant in 2015. In addition to his police service, Kevin was a very active member of the Colma community, both on and off duty.
“Kevin was the recipient of numerous awards and commendations, including the 2018 Chief’s Award, which is given annually to an employee who ‘embodies a high moral character and demonstrates exemplary performance in all areas of police work, sworn and non-sworn alike, and more importantly, demonstrates our core values and strives to help the community in which he or she serves. This employee gives more of him or herself than asked, and often makes sacrifices to benefit the greater good, without expectation of acknowledgement.’
“Kevin was a son, a husband, father, a grandfather, a co-worker, and a friend. He will be dearly missed.”
KPIX/CBS San Francisco Bay Area said, “Kevin Nishita made a difference in a lot of people’s lives — as a police officer, a security guard, a family man and as a friend. He dedicated his life to the safety and well-being of others, including the news team at KPIX and other Bay Area TV stations.”
“He was a part of our news family. The loss is just tremendous,” said KPIX reporter Maria Cid Medina.
A trust fund has been set up to help Nishita’s family. The address: Kevin Nishita Trust Fund, Metropolitan Bank, 381 8th St., Oakland, CA 94607
Bay Area Crime Wave
The Bay Area has been struck by organized retail thefts in which bands of thieves, some carrying crowbars and hammers, break into high-end stores and snatch merchandise.
Similar thefts have been reported in Los Angeles and Beverly Hills and elsewhere in the country.
At least eight thieves stormed a Home Depot store in Lakewood on Black Friday and grabbed hammers, crowbars and sledgehammers in the tool section before dashing off in a getaway vehicle, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said.
Four people who may have participated in the Home Depot theft were later arrested in Beverly Hills after officers stopped two cars that were part of a caravan of vehicles driving around the city’s business district, police Lt. Giovanni Trejo said. A bystander called police after seeing that some of the vehicles did not display license plates, he said.
Meanwhile, police in Los Angeles arrested three people suspected of storming a designer clothing store on Melrose Place after stopping a vehicle and seeing clothes in plain view, said LAPD Officer Mike Lopez. He said more than 10 people ransacked another store on La Brea Avenue.
The thefts are believed to be part of sophisticated criminal networks that recruit people to steal merchandise in stores throughout the country and then sell it online. Experts and law enforcement officials say the thefts are ratcheting up as the holiday shopping season gets underway.