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Armed Robbery Suspects Cause Lockdown at Cal State Fullerton

Police say a team of robbers who, shot a jewelry store clerk led police on a high speed three county chase, tried to escape amid the crowds at Cal State Fullerton, prompting a lockdown.

Cal State Fullerton was locked down today while police scoured the university in search of one or more suspects in a robbery and shooting at a jewelry store in the Riverside County city of Moreno Valley that led to a three-county chase.

As SWAT officers marched through the campus -- particularly Mihaylo Hall -- hundreds of students amassed outside in a light rain. Some told reporters at the scene they saw a suspect run frantically toward the building, then walk calmly inside, mixing with the crowd.

The hold-up occurred about 3 p.m. at the Empire Jewelry and Pawn Shop in the 24500 block of Sunnymead Boulevard, just south of the Moreno Valley (60) Freeway, according to the Riverside County Sheriff's Department.

Witnesses told deputies that five men in ski masks and armed with .22-and .25-caliber handguns forced their way into the shop, robbed it and shot a clerk.
   The wounded man was rushed to Riverside County Regional Medical Center in stable condition.

Within 15 minutes of the robbery, the California Highway Patrol began pursuing a charcoal-colored two-door Lexus identified as the getaway vehicle, headed westbound on the 60.

The ensuing chase reached speeds of 100 mph going through Ontario and Pomona, according to the CHP. The suspects transitioned from the 60 to the southbound Orange (57) Freeway in Diamond Bar and made their way into the city of Fullerton, where the pursuit ended near the Cal State Fullerton campus.

The chase terminated on Nutwood Avenue near Mihaylo Hall, according to Fullerton police Sgt. Jeff Stuart, who said two suspects ran onto the campus toward the campus building, and another ran south away from the campus. Police said two suspects were taken into custody on or near the campus, but as many as two more were still at large. Officers were searching Mihaylo Hall to determine if any of the suspects were inside.

Meanwhile, yet another suspect carjacked a motorist, stealing her compact car. The status of that victim was not immediately known.

That carjacking led to a second chase that spanned more than 20 minutes, traveling west at a hair-raising pace on the Artesia (91) Freeway. The carjacker exited the freeway in the city of Compton. The vehicle in the first pursuit was registered to a Compton resident.

The suspect plowed through multiple intersections, with police, CHP and sheriff's units close behind. The man, clad in a white T-shirt and dark pants, eventually drove into a public housing project parking lot near Alameda Street, bailed out and ran onto a baseball diamond, where he was tackled to the ground and arrested.

Ironically, Los Angeles Police Department Chief Charlie Beck was at the housing project distributing gifts to children as part of a toy drive.

- City News Service

EDDIE QARTEL December 13, 2012 at 09:21 AM
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