RICHMOND -- Contra Costa prosecutors, applying a rarely used penal code, have charged two suspected burglars with murdering their accomplice even though it was an elderly roofing supply company store owner who fatally shot the man while defending his business.

Under the provocative act theory of murder liability, Terrell Franklin, 27, of Richmond, and Michael Pitre, 23, of Hercules, were charged Tuesday with the April 18 shooting death of Pierre Reddrick, 28, of Richmond. The pair have also been charged with the attempted murder of 68-year-old store owner Ronald Lucas, who was shot multiple times during the gunbattle; shooting into an inhabited building; and second-degree commercial burglary, said Contra Costa deputy district attorney Mary Knox.

A fourth man who was a passenger in the getaway car was not charged with a crime.

Franklin and Pitre are in custody on $2.2 million bail and face life in prison.

"Their commission of a crime together put in motion the circumstances that caused the victim to shoot," Knox said, describing the decision to apply the murder charge to the two men who did not shoot Reddrick.

The saga unfolded around 1 a.m. on April 18, when Franklin and Reddrick pried open the locks on Lucas' business in the 1300 block of Coalinga Avenue, Knox said. Lucas, who lived with his wife in the back of the building, grabbed his pistol and went to investigate after his wife heard a noise. Lucas startled Reddrick and shot him in the chest, police said.

An injured Reddrick fled over a fence, while Franklin shot the store owner multiple times in the legs and foot, Knox said. Pitre, who was waiting in the driver's seat of the getaway SUV, drove all four men to Kaiser Permanente hospital in Richmond where Reddrick died. Lucas' wife meanwhile called 911 to report the shootings, and police began checking area hospitals, where they found the suspected burglars. The men told officers they were good Samaritans who brought the injured Reddrick to the hospital, but police sorted through the stories and arrested the men, Knox said.

The store owner has undergone extensive surgery to rebuild the bones in his foot, Knox said.

Contact Matthias Gafni at 925-952-5026. Follow him at Twitter.com/mgafni.