Shoppers Dial 911 to Help Police Catch Holdup Suspect

Times Staff Writer

Two quick-thinking shoppers who saw a robbery in progress dialed the 911 emergency number to help police capture a suspect and recover almost $1,000 stolen from a Burbank record store Friday, police said.

The robbery began at 9:40 p.m. when a man walked into The Wherehouse at 1611 W. Verdugo Ave. and stood in the back with a concealed handgun, Burbank Police Department Sgt. Chris Welker said. The man was followed a minute later by a second suspect, who loudly clicked a shell into the chamber of a sawed-off shotgun to gain the attention of those in the store.

The suspects then ordered the 37 employees and patrons to lie on the floor and emptied two cash registers, police said. The suspects also took the wallet of a customer who had been making a purchase, police said.

The pair didn't realize, police said, that two people witnessed the crime from the parking lot and ran to a nearby public telephone to dial 911.

Burbank police arrived as the suspects were leaving on two motorcycles. A five-minute chase ensued, Welker said. It ended in Sun Valley when one of the suspects, trailed by police with flashing red lights and wailing sirens, tried to pass a car on the right side of the road near the intersection of Roscoe and Glenoaks boulevards.

The car's driver, hearing the pursuit, pulled to the side of the road, knocking over the motorcyclist and scattering the stolen money, Welker said. Police captured Michael John Kelly, 36, of Burbank, also known as Michael Wescott, after chasing him a short distance on foot. Kelly was wanted on suspicion of armed robbery and attempted murder in an unrelated incident, police said. The driver of the second motorcycle escaped.

More than $900 and a loaded shotgun were recovered, police said.

Kelly was booked on suspicion of armed robbery, police said. He is being held at County Jail.

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