Sunday, February 18, 2007

Guards: Teen 'prank' crosses line

Molotov cocktail, fire, epithets not a normal attack

By Keith Reid
Record Staff Writer
February 11, 2007 6:00 AM

Security guards know their job description includes a little bit of danger. After all, if nobody was worried about the safety of their property or personal well-being, there wouldn't be much need for people to hire a security guard.

But some security guards say a Feb. 3 attack on two Securitas Security Company guards in Stockton's upscale Brookside neighborhood crosses the line.

According to the Stockton police, four teenage boys poured gasoline into two strips on the street, lured two security guards there, lit the gas on fire, threw a Molotov cocktail and hurled racial epithets at the guards. One guard was black and the other Asian American.

The teenagers told the police it was meant as a prank.

Securitas Security officials also have called the incident a prank, but professional guards from other agencies say they would not be taking the incident so lightly if it happened to them.

"I would not consider that a prank," said Troy Coleman, owner of Coleman Security, which operates in Oakland and San Francisco. "I would consider that attempted murder."

Security guards certainly face a little bit of danger in their everyday routine, Coleman said, but it usually involves trying to stop a burglar or breaking up a fight.

Being attacked, especially by fire, is not normal, Coleman said.

"I can't say that it never happens," he said, "but I've never heard of anything like a Molotov cocktail being thrown at a guard."

Securitas Northern California Division Manager Terry Brady told The Record that the incident is "nothing in our world," noting that Securitas employs 6,500 guards in Northern California and some have been shot or attacked.

Lawrence Garcia, who works for Ameriguard Security Services in Fresno, was told of the incident by The Record. He said he would consider such an attack to be criminal activity on a number of levels.

"It's definitely not a prank," Garcia said. "The first thing you have to realize is that a Molotov cocktail is illegal. Lighting a fire on a city street is illegal activity."

The teens, who were cited and released into the custody of their parents that night, already face felony charges of conspiracy and using a destructive device to terrorize or intimidate.

Stockton police have said they are investigating the incident as a possible hate crime, and the San Joaquin County district attorney will decide whether to file hate-crime charges against the four teens, whose names have not been released.

Contact reporter Keith Reid at (209) 367-7428 or


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