Man Charged With Murder in Guard Ambush

Nate Tabak covers crime. E-mail him at [email protected].

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OAKLAND-An Oakland man was charged with murder yesterday in the slaying of an armed guard during a November southwest Berkeley ATM heist that didn't even net a penny.

Roger Tabuuhki Johnson, 32, stood expressionless, shackled in a red jail jumpsuit, in Alameda County Superior Court as a judge read off a slew of charges that also included attempted murder and robbery.

Prosecutors allege that Johnson played a "principal" role in a Nov. 21 assault rifle ambush at a Wells Fargo branch near Ashby Avenue that left Brink's guard Dena Monique Daniels dead and her partner John Buzzard wounded.

"(Johnson) was in the group," said Deputy District Attorney Jim Meehan.

In a Nov. 25 interview with investigators, Johnson admitted to being a getaway driver in the heist, according to court documents released yesterday.

Johnson expressed willingness to cut a deal and suggested he could identify the robbers, but expressed reluctance to do so out of fear of harm that could befall him and his family, court records show.

But Johnson's cooperation with investigators has been "back and forth," serving little value, said Berkeley police Officer Mary Kusmiss.

Before the admission, Johnson said that he "felt bad" about the killing of Daniels, a single mother with a 7-year-old child, because he too had children, according to court documents.

Johnson said he was hired to drive the getaway Ford Explorer, which he is accused of stealing, but denied knowing about the planned robbery, court records show.

Johnson was arrested in connection to an Aug. 30 robbery of an armored car in San Leandro, court records show. His fingerprints were allegedly found in the getaway car, but he was never charged. San Leandro police could not be reached for comment late yesterday.

Following instructions, Johnson said he pulled into a parking space outside Wells Fargo and heard a passenger say, "Here it comes," according to court documents.

The Brink's guards were about to collect deposits from an ATM inside the bank's entrance when Daniels said "Oh no," before two ski-masked men opened fire from outside, according to a police report.

Buzzard unholstered his .38-caliber revolver and fired at the assailants, but they shot him in the thigh and killed Daniels, court records show. One of the shooters then took an empty bank bag off Daniels.

The robbers fled in the Ford Explorer, but ditched it in a nearby parking lot and switched to a Mitsubishi Montero.

Johnson was arrested at the Berkeley Marina Friday, 13 hours after the robbery. Police said he was inside the same Mitsubishi Montero used in the robbery.

He had with him a key and an alarm device that police said are likely connected to the getaway Ford Explorer.

Johnson was arraigned last week on charges of auto theft and receiving stolen property. He now faces a total of six charges in connection to the robbery.

He is scheduled to appear in court next week and is jailed without bail.

Police said Johnson is the only arrest that has been made in the case.


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