SAN JOSE -- Two men suspected of murder during a violent crime spree used a stop at a red light to ambush a police officer, getting out of their car, approaching the police cruiser and then unleashing a shower of bullets at him, police said Monday.
The officer was wounded but escaped serious injury during the Friday night gunbattle. One of the men -- 26-year-old Jonathan Wilbanks of San Jose -- was arrested, but the second was still at large Monday, prompting a $20,000 reward for information leading to his arrest.
Police say the two men are suspected of killing 22-year-old Rory Park-Pettiford of Campbell during an attempted carjacking earlier Friday night that followed four armed robberies.
Wilbanks was booked on suspicion of murder, two counts of attempted murder, four counts of robbery, burglary and auto theft, police said.
On Monday, police released a sketch of the second suspect, as well as photographs of the officer's patrol vehicle and duty belt, which was hit by multiple bullets.
"These are heinous crimes perpetrated by two individuals who have no regard for human life," Assistant Chief of Police Rikki Goede said during a Monday news conference.
Sunday, the San Jose Police Officers' Association offered a $10,000 reward in the case. Monday, Mayor Chuck Reed announced he was matching that amount from his budget.
During a news conference, Reed said the entire City Council is grateful and proud of the police work that's been done so far in the case, "and thankful for the courage the men and women in our department have shown."
Police also provided a chilling account of the gunbattle between the two men and the officer who first spotted their vehicle and discovered the license plate matched one a witness reported after one of the robberies.
The officer -- whose name has not been released -- saw the vehicle driving on Interstate 280 near Highway 101 and, while waiting for backup, followed it to the intersection of Tully Road and Lanai Avenue. As both cars were stopped at a red light, the two men got out of their vehicle and opened fire.
"It was a pre-emptive strike," Sgt. Jason Dwyer said. "They are advancing on him. If you look at the trajectory of the rounds going into the belt on the outside, they're almost on top of him. It might have started at a certain distance, but they are trying to advance on him ... They're actively trying to maneuver for a better shot."
There were vehicles stopped in front of and behind the officer, essentially trapping him inside a "kill zone."
"That to me is a straight-up ambush," Dwyer said, adding the two must have known the officer was tailing them.
The second officer to arrive at the scene, Bruce Barthelemy, fired several shots at the two suspects. The men fled, but police say Wilbanks was struck twice.
Barthelemy and the injured officer both pursued the suspects, who continued to fire at officers while being chased, police revealed Monday.
During the pursuit one of the suspects jumped out of the vehicle and ran into a residential neighborhood. That suspect remains at large.
Wilbanks crashed into a structure near Reid-Hillview Airport, police said. He ran into a nearby home at random and was arrested.
"I'm very proud of the courage and incredible efforts shown by our patrol officers and commanders who managed six separate crime scenes, and a search warrant on a suspect, all which occurred in the space of 90 minutes," Goede said.
In making a plea to the community, Goede said an innocent life was taken and someone out there may have information that will lead to the suspect's arrest. Goede asked for anyone with any information, big or small, to call police, because "it could take some seriously violent people off the street."
The crime spree began Friday at about 7:40 p.m. when the suspects allegedly robbed a Little Caesar's Pizza restaurant on Story Road in East San Jose. Police said the suspects quickly moved on to rob a gas station on East Capitol Expressway, then allegedly held up a Jack in the Box restaurant on Curtner Avenue and a spa on Bird Avenue.
By then it was almost 9 p.m. and, police said, the men were apparently seeking to switch vehicles. So they drove to the city's West Side, to a 7-Eleven convenience store on South Kiely Avenue at Saratoga Avenue, where they allegedly attempted to steal Park-Pettiford's parked car.
Park-Pettiford and a close friend had stopped at the convenience store to get some energy drinks before going out, his older brother Dylan said Monday.
They were heading back to Park-Pettiford's brand new BMW when two armed men wearing ski masks emerged from the shadows, yelling something, Dylan said. But Park-Pettiford and his friend couldn't make out what they were saying because the masks muffled their voices, Dylan said. So they jumped into the car.
Park-Pettiford was trying frantically to start the vehicle when one of the gunmen shot him through the driver's side window. The 22-year-old barely had time to tell his friend, "I've been shot, I'm bleeding,'' when the gunman shot him twice more, then ran away.
Dylan, 27, a veteran of the Iraq war, said his parents are devastated by the loss of their only other child. Rory lived with his father, who is disabled, in Campbell. His mother lives in Santa Clara.
"Rory was just a great kid, always the life of the party,'' Dylan said. "He was just bundles of joy, he could make everyone laugh.''
Anyone with information regarding the whereabouts of the second suspect is asked to immediately call 911. To provide confidential information about the whereabouts of the suspect please call 408-947-STOP (7867) or the homicide section at 408-277-5283.
To help Park-Pettiford's family with funeral costs, please go to www.roryparkdonations.com.
Contact Mark Gomez at 408-920-5869. Follow him at Twitter.com/markmgomez.