OAKLAND -- Two young professional women working in Montclair Village were robbed at gunpoint by two suspects around 5:40 p.m. March 24 in the stairwell of the Montclair parking garage.
"This is the safest part of Oakland," said B. Reid Settlemier, the owner of Settlemier Properties, where the women work. "This hits close to home for everybody. We don't want to be part of the statistics."
"It's shocking that they did this at this hour," said Olivia Perez, who also works at Settlemier Properties. "It was daylight. There were kids, moms with strollers and shopping bags in the street. It's shocking, and this is considered a safe area."
Video from the garage's surveillance camera captured the pair running across the street to the top of La Salle Avenue. They were then seen driving, with a third man down the street in a late-model BMW that was identified as being either a dark blue or black sedan.
Oakland police are following up on leads and looking for additional camera footage from surrounding businesses, said police Capt. Anthony Toribio.
"Nobody wants this happening," Settlemier said. "With better cameras, we would have been able to see the license plate and the color of the car."
"We need four to six high-definition cameras (strategically located in the village), and we would have much nicer security," Settlemier said. "Piedmont did it."
Settlemier also suggested enhancing lighting in the garage, adding additional cameras and augmenting private security in the commercial district.
"The next step is talking to the business and (property) owners about getting more security. It's in all of our interests to make this place safe. We can't have armed robberies in the village. Hopefully, this is a thing of the past," Settlemier said.
"This is very rare," said Daniel Swafford, executive director of the Montclair Village Association.
"We will be taking measures to provide deterrence and will increase the private security that is already in the village."
"Anytime the community wants to get involved in public safety, it's a good thing.
"The use of video evidence has been very helpful for the police department identifying cars and linking crimes," Toribio said.
Swafford is seeking more active involvement with local businesses. Quality camera footage can aid the police department in identifying suspects, making arrests and ultimately serving as a crime deterrent, Swafford said.
Swafford and Toribio are discussing how best to enhance safety in the village, including the strategic placement of video cameras in the area.
"I am seeing good support from the city parking department to address the deferred maintenance issues in the parking structure," Swafford said.
"I feel terrible. This is really scary. Breaking into homes was bad enough, but having a gun in your back. They can shoot you," said Adrianna Gicomelli, a Montclair resident for more than 30 years.
Gicomelli said that she is now careful when she shops in the village.
"I'm always looking over my shoulder now," she said. "I don't scare easy, but it's the guns. ... What happens if they shoot me? It's a scary situation."