Home News ‘He’s my guardian angel,’ Marine veteran killed while protecting waitress from robbery

‘He’s my guardian angel,’ Marine veteran killed while protecting waitress from robbery

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John King

San Francisco Chronicle

Robert Sundin made it a habit on weekday mornings to stop at Scotty’s diner in Vallejo on his way to work. He’d often pull in early, to make sure the opening waitress made it safely from her car into the cafe.

Last week, that ongoing act of kindness may have saved her life — and it cost the 70-year-old ex-Marine and lay minister his.

“When he got out of his truck I just started thinking ‘no no no no,'” said Teresa Brasher, who had been serving Sundin his morning omelet and pancakes for several years. “He’s my guardian angel. He saved my life, dammit.”

That day was when the killing, Vallejo’s 24th homicide of the year, occurred, just after 5:30 a.m. on Dec. 8 outside the diner on the 1600 block of Tennessee Avenue in the North Bay city. Brasher, recounting the tragedy on Sunday, said she had just gotten out of her car when a man approached rapidly on a scooter, “pointing to my purse, or to me, I don’t know.”

She jumped back in the car and locked it, and as the man leaned over the car Sundin drew close to try and break things up. There was a brief struggle and then the assailant shot Sundin, who was pronounced dead at the scene after police arrived, the waitress told The Chronicle.

The Vallejo Police Department has not reported any arrests in the case. The department said last week it was under investigation, and on Sunday did not respond to requests for details or updates.

According to friends and family members, Sundin’s selflessness was in keeping with the gregarious and generous man that they knew.

“Bob was a true hero in every sense of the word,” said Rev. Eric Luna of the Assembly of God church in Fairfield, where Sundin was a lay minister and former deacon. A hero for intervening to protect Brasher, but also in his everyday life.

“He out-volunteered everyone at the church, by a long shot,” Luna told The Chronicle on Sunday evening. “If he saw a need, he didn’t ask permission, he just did what he could to help.”

Sundin’s adopted daughter, AllieMae Jackson, on Sunday recalled a man whose “hobby was helping people,” and who was also “always there to listen.” Including, said the 21-year-old, to her and her brothers “even though I was a rowdy teen, grumpy and grouchy.”

To Brasher, the genial ex-Marine was a regular who always ordered the same breakfast: Scotty’s #2 omelet, ham and bacon, with spinach swapped for the bell pepper because the latter gave him heartburn. And instead of hash browns, a short stack of potatoes.

It also was routine for him to pull up in his truck, midway in his commute from Napa to Concord, around the time that Brasher did. He’d sit in his truck reading the newspaper until Scotty’s opened at 6 a.m., then go to his given spot at the counter and discuss the morning’s news with the other regulars.

“He was an awesome man, and once he got going, he loved to talk,” Brashear said.

Scotty’s has established a GoFundMe account to help the Sundin family with funeral and financial expenses.

Brashear, who has worked at the cafe 22 years, returned to Scotty’s on Sunday morning for an otherwise-routine shift — “I need to be around people, and I really needed to today,” she said. She was greeted by several regulars who helped her get the seven flavored coffees going, put out the cream and condiments, and throw open the doors to the public. A memorial, of sorts, to the regular who was not there.

John King is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: jking@sfchronicle.com Twitter: @johnkingsfchron


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