Freshman Sequestered During Police Action

Claire Mueller, Staff Writer

A homicide suspect had a 19-hour standoff with Martinez Police and Contra Costa County SWAT on April 28-29 at a gas station near Highway 4. Residents in the area were advised to “shelter-in-place,” and as a result, freshman Bella Brocato couldn’t attend school on Friday, April 29.

The suspect was identified as Gregory Prokopowicz, according to an East Bay Times article by Lisa P. White, Aaron Davis, and Annie Sciaca.

“The guy who was outside my house shot his girlfriend in Walnut Creek, and then drove all the way to Martinez on Thursday night. I guess he didn’t want to be caught,” explained Brocato. “He pulled up right between the gas station and my house, and he was in the exact middle. Apparently, he was on a bunch of drugs so he stayed up the entire night. He had a gun pointed to his head and threatened to kill himself. We were stuck in our house for twenty hours.”

A friend of Brocato, freshman Dalen Schnayer, was communicating with her over social media during the ordeal. “She told me over Snapchat that she couldn’t come to school because of the shooting,” said Schnayer. “I was kind of worried for her. I Snapchatted her back saying ‘Stay in the house. Don’t go out because it might be dangerous’.”

“The SWAT guys were like ‘Okay guys, it’s going to be a shelter-in-place and you guys aren’t allowed to leave the house. At first I was like ‘Yay I don’t have to go to school!’ but when it got into the middle of the day I was like ‘Whoa, this is taking a really long time.’ We thought they were going to arrest him that night. They wanted to keep him alive, but I have no idea why,” Brocato said.

According to the East Bay Times article, the police prioritized keeping all parties alive during the standoff.

“My parents were kind of worried, especially my mom. My eleven-year-old brother wasn’t really aware of the whole thing. He just knew that something was going on and we weren’t going to school. We had a joke that we should watch out for stray bullets,” said Brocato.

“At the end, on Friday afternoon, he threw the gun out of the car around noon. Then the police sprayed him with tear gas and arrested him. When they were trying to get the gun away from him, I was hoping he wasn’t going to shoot anyone or shoot our window,” Brocato explained.

According to Martinez Police Department’s official report, “SWAT deployed three rounds of tear gas into the vehicle and within seconds Prokopowicz came out of the vehicle and surrendered. Prokopowicz was arrested at 2:11 PM for homicide.”

“It was around maybe four o’clock that we got the all-clear to leave,” said Brocato. “After that, we went to straight to Carson City for my brother’s soccer tournament.”