A man suspected of six holdups at the same Pacoima convenience store was shot and killed by police officers Friday when he attempted to rob the store a seventh time while plainclothes officers were inside waiting, Los Angeles police said.
The unidentified man entered the 7-Eleven store about 2 a.m. and pointed a .25-caliber semiautomatic pistol at two clerks standing behind the counter, Officer Don Lawrence said.
One of the clerks put $48 on the counter and the gunman was picking it up when two officers, Fred Tepstein and Gary Hromada, who had been in a back room in the store, identified themselves and told the man to drop the gun, Lawrence said.
"The suspect looked at the officers and started to point the gun at Tepstein," Lawrence said.
Tepstein, 37, a 14-year department veteran who was carrying a shotgun, fired once at the man, hitting him in the lower back, Lawrence said. The man was taken to Pacifica Hospital of the Valley in Sun Valley, where he died two hours later.
Although the man was not identified, police said they believe he was the robber who repeatedly targeted the store in the 10700 block of Glenoaks Boulevard, taking a total of $400 in six holdups and once shooting and slightly wounding the store's owner, Jasbir Dhillon, 25, while Dhillon sat in a car outside watching the business.
In each of those crimes, police said, the robber was a man in his early 20s who wore a mask and a red baseball cap. The man shot by Tepstein on Friday wore the same attire, police said.
"I don't know why he did it," Dhillon said. "It didn't seem worth it because he never got a lot of money."
The string of robberies, all of which occurred during early morning hours, began March 14, Lawrence said.
The robber had hit the store four more times by the morning of May 6, when Dhillon decided to sit in a car outside and watch for him.
But police said the man snuck up to the car, accused Dhillon of "monitoring his activities" and fired a shot through the door, striking Dhillon in the shoulder and inflicting a minor wound. Early the next morning, the man returned and robbed the store again.
After the sixth robbery, officers from the Valley Bureau Major Crimes Task Force decided to stake out the 7-Eleven and wait for the robber to appear again. Officers had staked out the store three times before Friday's incident.