Two Marin County sheriff’s deputies watched from 50 feet away while a man killed two people with a shotgun on the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge last week.
The deputies, detectives returning from an unrelated investigation in San Pablo, stopped traffic and radioed for help, Richmond police said Tuesday.
But they made no move to stop the killer’s rampage or to follow him or take his license plate number.
Their reactions that night left local law enforcement circles buzzing in the days following the Aug. 11 deaths of Deborah Ross, 51, and Ersie Everette, 58.
“I’m not in a position to know whether their actions might or might not have influenced the outcome. It’s fair to say we’re still putting the pieces together,” said Richmond Police Chief Chris Magnus. He acknowledged that he has heard from many residents and police officers, retired and active, on the subject.
The Marin County sheriff’s deputies, whom police would not identify, saw the shooter as they approached the toll plaza, one in front of the other in unmarked cars. They wore street clothes but were armed and on the clock, returning from a follow-up investigation in San Pablo.
One saw the muzzle flash in the south parking lot, where police say Nathan Burris, 46, shot Everette. Moments later, Burris jogged out into traffic toward the toll booth.
The attack lasted less than half a minute. One of the deputies alerted her dispatch center in Marin County during the shooting, and the other used her car to block traffic so other drivers would not blunder into the gunman’s sights, Richmond police said. They then checked on workers in the toll booths and the adjoining Caltrans building.
Meanwhile, the suspect, later identified as Burris, drove away.