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San Rafael Police Department

San Rafael Police Department

For Immediate Release

Author: Sergeant Justin Graham
Date: November 14, 2022 10:00 AM

Suspect Arrested for Attack at McDonald's that Led to Several Hour-Long Standoff

San Rafael, CA – On 11/13/2022, Robert Michael Chernoff, a 35-year-old Novato Resident, was arrested on several felony charges after verbally threatening and physically attacking customers and an employee at a McDonald’s in Terra Linda.  Chernoff refused to cooperate with police before being taken into custody and caused a nearly four-hour-long standoff with police.    

At 1:50 PM, SRPD officers responded to a disturbance at the McDonald’s located on Merrydale Road in Terra Linda.  It was reported that the suspect, identified as Chernoff, had verbally threatened and assaulted victims with an unknown aerosol spray, used hand strikes, and also attempted to stab them with a knife.  

When police officers arrived, they located Chernoff outside the restaurant.  He was uncooperative and refused to discard the knife he was holding in his hand.  Police quickly evacuated the restaurant and surrounding area to protect bystanders from Chernoff.  

Since the area is generally busy with vehicle and pedestrian traffic, SRPD called for additional assistance from the Marin County Sheriff’s Office, which assisted with establishing a safety perimeter.  At the same time, SRPD attempted to keep Chernoff contained.  The safety perimeter caused the closure of Merrydale Road, Willow Avenue, and Redwood Highway.

An extended standoff occurred with Chernoff.  The San Rafael/Novato Regional Crisis Negotiation Team was called to the scene and attempted to de-escalate and negotiate with Chernoff.  For almost four hours, numerous attempts were made to convince Chernoff to surrender peacefully.  Chernoff instead continued to be uncooperative and became increasingly agitated.  It was determined that negotiation efforts were not successful and becoming futile.  It was clear that Chernoff remained a public safety threat as he refused to give up the knife he was holding.  To ensure the safety of the surrounding public, an arrest response team was established to try and take Chernoff into custody. 

Before using the arrest team, additional warnings were given to Chernoff regarding the possible use of force should he choose not to surrender peacefully.  Chernoff continued to be uncooperative and ignored commands, including orders to drop the knife, given by police personnel.  When the arrest team approached Chernoff, they were forced to use less-than-lethal munitions and a police K9. 

Chernoff was bit by the police K9, broke free, and then placed the K9 into a headlock where it appeared he was trying to choke the dog.  The arrest team continued to advance on Chernoff, who remained uncooperative.  While Chernoff resisted, a Taser was used to subdue his violent actions.  The Taser successfully worked, and Chernoff was taken into custody.  

Chernoff received an injury to his arm from where the K9 bit him.  Chernoff was treated for his injuries at a local hospital.  Chernoff was then booked into the Marin County Jail for felony assault with a deadly weapon/knife, felony criminal threats, misdemeanor assault and battery, misdemeanor resisting and obstructing police officers, and misdemeanor harming a police K9.   Investigators are still trying to determine the motivation behind the attack.

Other than Chernoff, no one was injured in this incident.  The police K9 did not suffer significant injury other than a small scuff to the dog’s nose.

This case has been forwarded to the Marin County District Attorney’s Office.

Police investigators are still making efforts to contact additional victims who were at the scene.

Anyone with information about this crime is asked to call San Rafael Police at (415) 485-3000. Tips can also be made online at http://www.srpd.org/tips.

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Posted: November 14, 2022 10:08 PST by Sergeant Justin Graham

Updated: November 14, 2022 11:11 PST by Justin Graham

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