Benjamin Packer, 20, has been arrested on suspicion of stabbing to death his 42-year-old father Dennis in his home in the 1200 block of Ironwood Drive in Brentwood. Officers arrived just after 10:30 p.m. on Friday, May 8 after being called about a family dispute, and found Benjamin sitting in the driveway and Dennis and his 40-year-old wife, whom police declined to name, inside the residence bleeding from stab wounds.
“The mother and father were conversing with the suspect,” said Police Sgt. Mark Misquez. “He simultaneously attacked both of them with the knife. The mother received a serious laceration to her forearm. It was a violent struggle.”
Dennis was transported to Sutter Delta Medical Center in Antioch, where he later died. Police had been called to the residence at least two other times to respond to family disputes, and Benjamin has a history of drug abuse, according to Misquez. “This is a tragic, isolated family-violence incident,” he said.
Benjamin is being held on $2.3 million bail, charged with murder and attempted murder with a deadly weapon.
A trust fund has been set up to provide for the mother and two children, ages 10 and 14. Donations can be made out to the Dennis Patrick Packer Memorial Fund and mailed or dropped off at Bank of the West, 4540 Balfour Road, Brentwood 94513.
A funeral service will be held for Packer on Saturday, May 16 at 10 a.m. at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, 1101 McClarren Road in Brentwood.
The stabbing was the first homicide in Brentwood since December of 2006. Those with information should call Detective Aguiar at 925-634-6911.
Seventeen hours later, Oakley police received a call concerning Alan Openshaw, 37, who was described as despondent and suicidal and driving around the city. Officers were unable to locate him right away but had cell phone conversations with him, during which he made suicidal statements as well as threats toward police officers, according to a County Sheriff’s Office press release.
Just before 8 p.m., officers found Openshaw in the area of Lois Lane and Mallard Lane in Oakley, where he displayed what looked to be a handgun but which turned out to be a BB gun resembling a Smith & Wesson handgun. He then led officers on a pursuit that ended in the 900 block of Almond Drive. When Openshaw came out of his vehicle he displayed the gun again and later pointed it to his head while threatening to commit suicide and harm officers.
Officers repeatedly asked him to put the gun down. They also shot a 40 mm sponge round at him in a non-lethal effort to disarm him. When Openshaw pointed his gun at officers, several officers discharged their firearms, striking him, according to the press release. Openshaw was taken to Sutter Delta Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead of a gunshot wound in the right chest.
“No officers ever want to be put in this situation,” said Oakley Police Chief Chris Thorsen in a press release. “However, when a gun is pointed at officers, they will use the necessary force to protect themselves and others.”
Six officers were placed on at least two days paid administrative leave following the shooting: Sgt. Robert Roberts, 13 years of service; Ricky Grubaugh, 5 years; Mark Johnson, 10 years; Lance Morrison, 3 years; Rhenelle Daniels, 9 years; and Dennis Curran, 6 years.
“These types of events are traumatic for all of those involved,” said Thorsen in the statement. “We are taking the appropriate steps to ensure the officers are getting the proper support and follow-up services.”
When asked whether the incident was a suicide-by-cop event in which a person forces the police to kill him rather than killing himself, sheriff’s spokesman Jimmy Lee said, “We are not saying anything at this point until the investigation is complete. We need to look at everything before we make a final determination.”
It could take three to six months to interview witnesses, examine evidence and conduct a coroner’s inquest, he said.
The 40 mm sponge round fired at Openshaw was designed to deliver a strong, stunning blow to his body without penetrating it. The sheriff’s office did not shoot a taser at him as an alternative nonlethal weapon because they do not use that device, said Lee.
“They were faced with an extreme set of circumstances,” he said. “They only had a fraction of a second to act. Whether or not another option would have been enough, we will never know.”
This was the second officer-involved shooting in Oakley in the past year and a half. In October of 2007, Oakley Police Officer Ian Jones shot to death James Brennan, who was drunk and attacking him but unarmed, according to the coroner’s inquest. A lawsuit alleging a wrongful shooting and seeking $20 million has been filed by Brennan’s family against Jones, the city and the sheriff’s department.