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Ex-High School Athlete Suspected in Robbery Turns Himself In

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

After breaking two previous promises to surrender, a former high school basketball player who said he was worried about his toddler daughter’s welfare turned himself over to police Tuesday in connection with an armed robbery in San Fernando, police said.

James Wells, 22, whose two alleged accomplices were still being sought, strode into the Van Nuys police station about noon and surrendered on a warrant charging him with robbing a paging firm at gunpoint June 17.

After vowing twice before--to police on the day of the robbery and to a television reporter on Monday--to turn himself in, the Pacoima man had failed to keep his promise, San Fernando Police Det. Robert Jacobs said. Wells said Tuesday that he gave up because of concerns about his 2-year-old daughter’s future, Jacobs said.

Along with 22-year-old Lewis Greenwood and 19-year-old Johnny Ray Fisher Jr., both of Pacoima, Wells was named in a warrant charging him with holding up City Wide Paging Co. at 2033 Glenoaks Blvd. and making off with about $700 in cash and about $300 in pagers, the detective said. The three men fled in a car that was pursued by police until it crashed into a chain-link fence and they escaped on foot.

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Wells did not turn over any cash to authorities, or hand over his gun, saying he gave it away, Jacobs added.

Wells, who said he was a YMCA basketball coach, met the paging firm owner when he joined the varsity basketball team at San Fernando High School, Jacobs said.

Wells, held in lieu of $240,000 bail, was to be arraigned today in Van Nuys Municipal Court.


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