Assassination attempt on Vallejo cops linked to boy’s shooting

A 41-year-old North Bay man with a felony criminal record attempted to assassinate two Vallejo police officers on a coffee break Sunday night, but his modified assault rifle jammed, police officials said Monday.

Authorities said officers ultimately chased Adam Powell, who was wearing body armor, out of the Starbucks on Lincoln Road and shot him three times as he continued to fiddle with the weapon — shutting down what police said could have been a bloodbath.

Investigators, meanwhile, were looking into whether the cartridge that blocked the barrel of the souped-up “assault style weapon” was from a bullet that wounded Powell’s 2-year-old son hours earlier at a home in Suisun City.

The boy was in critical condition in the intensive care unit at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland, after suffering what police described as an “accidental self-inflicted gunshot wound” to the neck.

The attempted police ambush unfolded around 8:50 p.m. when Powell burst into the Starbucks at 199 Lincoln Road W. and pointed his weapon at two officers, police said, while two other patrons and staff members were inside.

Vallejo Police Chief Andrew Bidou said Powell had apparently stalked the officers after spotting them while driving by the Starbucks six minutes earlier. He described the incident as a “premeditated ambush.”

“We’re relieved this wasn’t a tragedy and our officers weren’t assassinated,” Bidou said at a news conference. “Here were two officers on a break, ambushed by a man with superior firepower.”

When the rifle — which had a 70-round drum magazine and collapsible stock — jammed, the officers drew their weapons and Powell fled the coffee shop, which is connected to a small shopping center and gas station, police said.

Grainy surveillance video shows him running through the parking lot in the rain and onto westbound Magazine Street as the officers chase him with their guns drawn.

The two officers caught up to Powell near Magazine and Sheridan streets, where the gunman “continued to manipulate the weapon and presented himself as a lethal threat to the officers,” police said in a statement.

That’s when the officers opened fire, hitting Powell three time before he collapsed near a grassy embankment along the sidewalk, authorities said.

People nearby reported hearing several gunshots moments before dozens of officers from multiple agencies swarmed to the area.

Paramedics took Powell to a hospital, where he was being treated for life-threatening injuries. Police said he was also carrying loaded handgun and wearing body armor. He has a criminal record that includes felony burglary and drug convictions, officials said.

The officers were not injured.

Hours before the incident, police and paramedics in Suisun City, about 18 miles east of Vallejo, responded to a home on the 1000 block of Canary Court, where Powell has been living with family members.

When emergency crews arrived at the house about 3:28 p.m., Powell’s son, Adonis Powell, was bleeding from an apparent “accidental self-inflicted” gunshot wound and family members were in panic, police said.

The boy’s grandfather, who would only give his first name of Willie, tearfully recounted the moments after Adonis was hit by the bullet and paramedics rushed him to the hospital.

“My daughter came downstairs and said, ‘Call 911,’” Willie said at the home Monday afternoon. “I go upstairs and see my grandbaby bleeding out of his neck. So I grabbed a towel and laid him on the ground.”

As Willie tended to the boy, he said Powell, who was upstairs at the time, grabbed his clothes, got dressed and fled.

Bidou said no guns were found inside the house, but would not say if the child had been shot with one of the guns found on Powell after police shot him.

The boy remained in the intensive care unit at Children’s Hospital Oakland in critical condition but was stable, his older sister, Breauna Bowers, said.

“He’s the best boy you could imagine,” said Bowers, 19. “He’s like my best friend.”

Bowers said Powell had been in a relationship with her mother for about four years and was “like a stepfather.”

“He is a good man,” she said, still confounded after learning about the Vallejo incident.

“Maybe he thought his son was dead and was just distraught and wanted to commit suicide,” she said. “Who knows?”

Detectives worked through Sunday night and into Monday morning processing the crime scene in Vallejo, while the Solano County district attorney’s office joined the investigation.

“These events underscore the extreme danger our officers face on a daily basis,” Bidou said.

Sunday night’s shooting comes after a similar incident on Friday in San Francisco, where an officer was wounded and a suspect was killed during a confrontation.

In another confrontation Sunday, police in Santa Cruz shot and killed a man, who they said attacked them with a metal rake.

Evan Sernoffsky and Chris Preovolos are San Francisco Chronicle staff writers. Email:, Twitter: @EvanSernoffsky, @Preovolos

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