3 Teenagers Arrested in Toy Store Armed Robbery
Three teenagers were arrested after they allegedly stole thousands of dollars and store credit vouchers from a Toys R Us, pointed a shotgun at police officers and crashed their getaway car in a botched escape, police said Monday.
Ramon Valdez, 19, of Los Angeles and Marcus Cruz, 19, of Washington state were arrested shortly after the Sunday-night robbery. Acting on an anonymous tip, police arrested Jaime Pedilla, 18, of Los Angeles on Monday morning, investigators said.
The suspects were being held at Van Nuys Jail in lieu of $55,000 bail each on suspicion of armed robbery and assault with a deadly weapon on a police officer, said Los Angeles Police Det. Greg DeMirjian.
Shortly after 10 p.m. Sunday, two masked men entered the Toys R Us at 16040 Sherman Way carrying a handgun and shotgun, police said. After demanding that the manager open the safe, they took thousands of dollars in cash and store credit vouchers, and then met the third man near the back of the store. They fled by car.
Police said they were still investigating how the men entered the store, which was supposed to close at 10 p.m. They suspect the doors may have been open past closing time to allow customers to complete sales and exit, said police spokesman Jason Lee. He did not know whether any customers were in the store at the time of the robbery.
When the suspects left, they swerved into arriving police officers and then drove down a dead-end street. After turning around, one of the suspects aimed a shotgun at police. Police fired at the car, possibly grazing Valdez’s leg, DeMirjian said.
A woman in a nearby apartment complex said she was roused by gunfire.
“We heard gunshots,” she said. “Maybe three.”
The woman, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said she ran to her kitchen. A few moments later she was startled again by the suspects’ red Camaro crashing into a parked car 10 feet from her bedroom.
She then went outside and saw the Camaro resting on the curb outside her window and two men running east on Sherman Way. With officers in pursuit, Valdez and Cruz, injured from the crash, turned themselves in.
The men targeted the toy store after the busy shopping weekend. “There was a lot of money--that’s why they picked it,” DeMirjian said.
The same Toys R Us branch was robbed three years ago. DeMirjian, a robbery detective, said that in his experience, toy stores are not targeted more often during the holiday season than at other times of the year.
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