3 Robbery Suspects Arrested After Shootout

Times Staff Writer

Three Los Angeles Police Department undercover detectives engaged in a gun battle Sunday night with three armed men who police said were running through the streets of Reseda after robbing a Ralphs supermarket.

One suspect was wounded in the left shoulder and another was bitten by a police dog. All were taken into custody.

No officers, Ralphs employees or bystanders were injured, said Sgt. John Pasquariello, a department spokesman.

The shooting occurred just before midnight, nearly seven hours after detectives from the elite Special Investigations Section began following the suspects, who they believed were responsible for a string of supermarket robberies in the San Fernando Valley in recent weeks.

The Special Investigations Section is a surveillance unit that has been criticized in the past for waiting until robbers and burglars strike before closing in.

According to a police statement, just before 11 p.m. the suspects drove in two vehicles to the 6400 block of Hesperia Avenue. One suspect parked a white Oldsmobile and got into a gray minivan occupied by the other two suspects.

About 11:30 p.m., the three drove to the Ralphs at 18318 Vanowen St., at Etiwanda Avenue, and parked in front. According to police, two men armed with handguns emerged from the van, one wearing a ski mask and the other a white T-shirt pulled up over his lower face.

Police said the men entered the supermarket so quickly that officers had no time to intervene.

Once inside, officers said, the suspects took an undisclosed amount of money from the registers and ordered the manager to open the store's safe, from which more money was taken. The suspects left, hopped into the van and sped away.

The detectives saw the suspects leave and went into the store to confirm that money had been taken, Pasquariello said in a statement.

The detectives chased the men east on Vanowen to Hesperia Avenue, where the suspects jumped out of the van and began walking to the parked Oldsmobile. When the police cars approached, one suspect fired at least one shot at a detective, police said. That detective returned fire with a shotgun as the suspect ran south, the police statement said.

A second suspect ran north and pointed his weapon toward the other two detectives, police said. Those detectives responded by firing a shotgun and a handgun.

One suspect was caught immediately as he attempted to flee. The others were caught with the help of police dogs and a department helicopter.

Police said they recovered two handguns and an undisclosed amount of money.

The suspects, all 22 and residents of the West Valley, were identified as Eddie Lee Nash, Ryan Gandy and Wylie Phillips. Nash and Phillips were on parole.

The three were arrested and booked on suspicion of attempted murder of a police officer, according to Officer Jack Richter, a department spokesman.

He said they are expected to face other charges, including weapons violations and robbery.

Bail was set at $560,000 for Nash and $500,000 for Gandy and Phillips.

The LAPD's Robbery-Homicide and Critical Incident Investigation divisions are looking into the shooting, Richter added.

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