The murder investigation remains "open and ongoing," but extensive review of evidence led to police identifying Reynaldo John Sanchez as one of the suspects in the homicide and securing a warrant from a Broward County (Fla.) judge for Sanchez's arrest earlier this month, according to Capt. Pedro Abut of the Hallandale Beach Police Department.
Sanchez, 21, is now in jail custody in Martinez after being apprehended by the San Ramon Police Department nearly seven hours after a vehicle associated with him triggered an alert to the city's automated license plate reader system on the afternoon of Aug. 17, according to SRPD Lt. Jason Barnes.
Abut said authorities were working to extradite Sanchez to Florida to face the felony murder charge, a process that could take several weeks.
It was not immediately clear whether Sanchez is represented by an attorney yet.
The underlying homicide took place during the early-morning hours of June 29, 2020, at a home in the 600 block of Northeast 4th Street in Hallandale Beach, a coastal city in southeastern Florida between Fort Lauderdale and Miami.
The incident started as an apparent home-invasion robbery that resulted in an exchange of gunfire and someone ended up dead at the scene, according to Abut.
Police are still working to confirm how the victim was involved in the incident that night, according to the captain, who declined to release the decedent's name, citing Marsy's Law protections.
Working to identify the culprits, investigators analyzed a range of evidence including video footage and DNA testing results, among others, according to Abut.
Abut alleged that through this review, police were able to eventually identify Sanchez as a suspect involved in the fatal encounter. He said investigators believe Sanchez was just one of the people involved, and they are still working to identify and charge others as well.
Hallandale Beach police obtained an arrest warrant from the court for a felony murder charge against Sanchez on Aug. 10, and Sanchez's information was entered into a nationwide police database for outstanding felony suspects, according to Abut.
One week later, at 1:23 p.m. Aug. 17, San Ramon police were alerted to a "felony vehicle" hit on the department's license plate reader system, Barnes said. The vehicle, bearing a Florida license plate, was reportedly connected to a suspect wanted on a murder charge -- later identified as Sanchez on a Broward County warrant, Barnes said.
Multiple officers responded to the area to look for the vehicle, and at 1:49 p.m., it was seen driving northbound on Bollinger Canyon Road, according to Barnes.
San Ramon police pulled over the vehicle, which initially yielded to the right shoulder of Bollinger Canyon Road, west of Albion Road. "The vehicle immediately fled westbound on Bollinger Canyon Road at very high speeds," Barnes said. "Officers began pursuing the vehicle but ultimately lost sight of it due to its high rate of speed in moderate traffic conditions."
Another SRPD unit quickly spotted the vehicle stopped on Saturn Park Drive at Deldrin Court, and a woman was detained as she got out of the driver's seat, Barnes said.
The woman -- later identified as 30-year-old Florida resident Tiarra Steadman -- was the only occupant of the vehicle at the time, Barnes said, adding, "However, based on the information obtained by officers at the location, officers believed the wanted subject had fled on foot."
Police allegedly found in the vehicle a loaded Glock 9mm handgun that was reported stolen to the Hollywood (Fla.) Police Department on Jan. 5, 2021.
SRPD led an extensive search of the neighborhood on foot, in vehicles and with a department drone team, while also receiving assistance from a Danville police K-9 unit and a California Highway Patrol helicopter, Barnes said. Officials also put out a photo and description of Sanchez on social media.
Police issued a shelter-in-place advisory for the area of Bollinger Canyon Road between Briar Oaks and North Monarch drives just after 2 p.m. in that area, but lifted it as of 4:30 p.m. Aug. 17.
Due to the active search in the area, Gale Ranch Middle School students were held in their classrooms and not released at their scheduled departure time, according to SRPD. A school district official confirmed Gale Ranch students were let out of school about 50 minutes late.
At one point, just after 6 p.m., SRPD said on Twitter, "We believe the suspect has left the area and is no longer a threat to those in these communities. Our Detectives are trying to develop leads on where he may have fled. However, with as much time as has passed, he could be a long way from San Ramon by now."
Within the next two hours, an astute resident sent in a tip at 7:45 p.m. that someone matching Sanchez's description may have been seen, leading officers to the area where he was caught, Barnes said. Sanchez was taken into custody without further incident.
Sanchez was booked into the Martinez Detention Facility on the felony murder warrant out of Hallandale Beach, Fla.
Steadman was also taken to jail, on suspicion of evading police, possessing a concealed weapon in a vehicle, possessing a stolen firearm and accessory to a felon, Barnes said.
-- Jeremy Walsh
In other news
* Two former Alameda County sheriff's deputies were sentenced last week to prison for their role in the "gassing" of inmates at Santa Rita Jail in Dublin in 2016.
Justin Linn of Tracy and Erik McDermott of Concord were each sentenced on Aug. 18 to four years and four months in prison for facilitating the "gassing," which involves the throwing of bodily fluids such as feces and urine, on another person.
Prosecutors said Linn and McDermott's position of authority facilitated the attacks by two inmates on at least five other inmates in Housing Unit 2.
"These former deputies directed, facilitated, enabled and committed sadistic and terrorizing acts against several men whose protection fell directly within the responsibility of their positions as correctional officers," District Attorney Nancy O'Malley said in a statement.
"The conduct of these defendants violated the law and there was no rational explanation for their actions aside from abject cruelty and a disregard for the humanity of the inmates," O'Malley added.
Linn and McDermott pleaded guilty to each of the 11 counts prosecutors charged them with, including 10 counts of assault by a public officer. One count was for dissuading a witness by threat or force.
The inmates who conducted the gassing at the direction of Linn and McDermott would receive special treatment from the then-deputies. Special treatment might include extra food, supplies and extra time outside their pod.
Deputy district attorney Tim Wagstaffe said the incidents were "foul" and the former deputies' behavior "egregious," following his prosecution of the case.
In a similar but separate case, former sheriff's deputies Sarah Krause and Stephen Sarcos each pleaded no contest in January 2020 to charges stemming from the gassing of other inmates.
Krause pleaded no contest to felony assault under the color of authority and received five years of probation and 240 hours of community service.
Sarcos pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor charge and received three years of probation and 180 hours of community service.
Linn and McDermott were expected to surrender this week at the East County Hall of Justice in Dublin.
-- Keith Burbank, BCN
* A Menlo Park physician who is affiliated with Stanford Cancer Center has been charged with possession of child pornography, according to a federal complaint in U.S. district court in San Francisco.
Joseph Andrew Mollick, 58, is a hematologist-oncologist who is also affiliated with Dominican Hospital and University of California, San Francisco Medical Center, among others. He faces the child pornography charge after an image he allegedly uploaded to a Canadian smartphone app was flagged by the company.
He allegedly uploaded the image onto the Kik smartphone messaging app on Aug. 30, 2019. Kik uses Microsoft's PhotoDNA technology, which immediately scans uploaded images to flag suspected child pornography. The company's law enforcement team alerted the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, which forwarded the materials to the U.S. Homeland Security Investigations office.
An investigator obtained a federal search warrant on Aug. 13, 2020, after linking an internet provider (IP) address to Mollick. The investigation uncovered more than 2,000 images and videos of child pornography and more than 800 files of child erotica through Mollick's Apple iCloud account, according to the federal complaint.
The complaint was filed on July 13 and was unsealed by the court on Aug. 19 in the U.S. District Court of Northern California in San Francisco.
Mollick appeared in federal court last Friday and was released on $50,000 bail. If he is convicted, he faces up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
-- Sue Dremann, Palo Alto Weekly