Suspect in Shooting of Retired Police Captain Is Arrested

Times Staff Writer

Police special weapons officers surrounded an Anaheim motel late Thursday night and arrested a suspect in last week’s robbery and shooting of a retired Buena Park police captain.

The arrest took place about 11 p.m., after Buena Park police officers obtained an arrest warrant for the attempted-murder suspect, whose name they would not give, in the April 25 robbery and shooting of retired Capt. Robert Coovert, 57.

SWAT officers from Buena Park and Anaheim arrested the suspect, a young man, and his female companion as the pair stepped out of a room at the Ha’Penny Inn, which had been under surveillance for several hours Thursday evening. The two were arrested without incident.


Telephoned Room

The suspect and his companion stepped out of the motel room after police gave instructions to the motel manager to telephone the room. The instructions given to the manager to relay to the room’s occupants were not immediately disclosed.

At 10:40 p.m., a police commander gave the first go-ahead to “take him (the suspect) down” as soon as he emerged from a room at the motel in the 2600 block of West Lincoln Avenue. Special weapons and tactics team officers were positioned in a room down the hallway from the suspect, as well as on all sides outside the room. Police officials had set up a special command post in the parking lot of the Victory Baptist Church of Orange County on Magnolia Avenue.

“Bridge’s team will be taking him down once he’s out of the apartment,” the officer in charge of the operation told his men over two-way radios.

Friend of Suspect

But as officers were maneuvering into position, a man identified by police as a friend of the suspect was seen leaving his room next door and loitering outside, police were heard to say over their two-way radios. A commander frantically ordered his officers to “get rid” of the man as soon as possible so he could not try and alert the suspect. The unidentified man was subsequently detained.

Finally, at 10:54 p.m., police gave the go-ahead for the manager to call the suspect’s room. After he was placed under arrest, one officer radioed another: “Congratulations.”

Coovert, an 11-year veteran of the Buena Park Police Department, was shot in the head and chest in his Buena Park florist shop when he refused a robber’s demand to hand over his money and his wife’s purse, authorities have said. Coovert was listed in good condition Thursday at United Western Medical Center-Santa Ana, where he had been admitted in critical condition after the shooting.


Coovert, speaking by telephone from his hospital bed, expressed elation on learning that a suspect had been found. “Fantastic!” he said. “It’s no surprise, though. We got a bunch of pros out there.”

Coovert said he and his wife, Betty, were confronted inside Garrick’s Flowers, a florist shop they operate in the 6000 block of Orangethorpe Avenue, by a robber who demanded that the couple sit on chairs in the back of the store, then turn over all their cash and Betty Coovert’s purse.

Coovert said he was shot when he refused and “went for” the young robber, whom he thought was carrying a toy gun. Betty Coovert was not hurt in the incident.

$50 Taken

“I just reacted to my training and what I could see,” Coovert said. “I didn’t want to see him get away with it.”

After he shot Coovert, the robber took about $50 in cash and left the store. Coovert said he remained conscious while paramedics rushed him to Western Medical Center.

There, he underwent several hours of surgery for the wounds to his head, kidneys and spleen. One of the bullets struck very near his left eye, shattering the eye lens, Coovert said.


Doctors have indicated that they do not know whether he will be able to see out of that eye again, Coovert said. An eye operation was scheduled for today, he said.

Coovert said that doctors believe that he can be released Sunday. He said he hopes to return to work soon at the flower shop, which he and his wife have operated since he took a disability retirement from the Buena Park Police Department in 1973.