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Teen Singer Killed, 2 Critically Hurt in Holdup

TIMES STAFF WRITER

A 16-year-old singer was shot to death, and two other people were critically wounded, in a San Bernardino convenience store holdup that turned into a gun battle, police reported Thursday.

The dead youth was identified by police as Ronnie Newt of Diamond Bar, who sang with his twin brother, Bobby, and a 10-year-old brother, Johnny, as the Newtrons on an MCA album released last year.

“We are deeply saddened,” a spokesperson for the Universal City-based company said Thursday.

According to authorities, Newt and three companions--one of them masked--walked into The Mini Mart on West Rialto Boulevard about 1 p.m. Wednesday, pistol-whipped the owner, Jong Soo Yoo, 43, and dragged him back to the cash register, where one robber held a gun to his head while demanding money.

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Several customers and a clerk fled.

As the robbers turned to leave with a small amount of cash and food stamps, they turned and fired at Yoo, San Bernardino Police said.

“The robbery was over with and they just turned around and opened fire,” Sgt. George Guerrero said.

Yoo, though badly hurt, grabbed a hidden pistol and opened fire, fatally wounding Newt and wounding another suspect, Eric Daniel Howard, 19, of Pomona.

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Newt died at St. Bernardine Hospital in San Bernardino.

Yoo, whose family has operated the store for four years, was shot in the face, shoulder and body, Guerrero said. He was in serious but stable condition at San Bernardino County Hospital. Howard was in critical condition at the same hospital with a head wound.

Two of the robbers escaped, including the one wearing a mask, and are still at large. One of the two may also have been wounded, Guerrero said. Four surveillance cameras in the store recorded the entire incident and investigators were hopeful the tapes would lead to the identities of the two.

Ronnie Newt participated in an anti-drug rally at the Los Angeles Sports Arena last June, greeting about 10,000 students from 20 schools who attended the “Getting Busy” program. The MCA spokesperson said The Newtrons were under contract with the company and released their first and only album under the label last year. The album, a mix of rap and rhythm and blues, did not sell too well, the spokesperson said.


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