Gas mask robbery suspect arrested [updated]

A man suspected of robbing a Laguna Niguel Starbucks at gunpoint while wearing a gas mask on Nov. 30 was arrested later that evening in Laguna Beach, police said.

Kyle Kamal Starner, 20, was arrested at 7:25 p.m. after he was detained by a Laguna Beach Police officer at BJ's Restaurant and Brewhouse, 280 S. Coast Hwy.

The Laguna Niguel Starbucks was robbed around 11 a.m. and an unspecified amount of money was reportedly taken. Witnesses told police the man left the scene on a bike.

Starner pleaded not guilty to all four counts — two second-degree robbery and burglary charges each — Tuesday after further investigation led to him being charged for another robbery at a Swirlz Frozen Yogurt Shop in the same complex as the Laguna Niguel Starbucks about two weeks ago.

Starner is scheduled to appear for a probation violation and pretrial hearing at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday at the Harbor Justice Center in Newport Beach (4601 Jamboree Road) in courtroom H2. He's scheduled to appear at the same time and place Friday for a preliminary hearing.

Starner, a former employee of BJ's, was reportedly visibly "drunk in public and causing a disturbance" where an officer happened to be, Laguna Beach Police Sgt. Louise Callus said.

"The manager [of BJ's] told the officer he was causing a problem so he was detained, and Orange County Sheriff's Department officers responded," Callus said. "One of the officers saw him and thought, 'Hey, he looks familiar.'"

The officer recognized Starner from a news article about a gas mask-wearing robber at a nearby Starbucks at 30211 Golden Lantern in Laguna Niguel earlier that day. Officers also found a gas mask in the 20-year-old's backpack.

"We responded to the location, and the subject was drunk, no question," Orange County Sheriff's Department Spokesman Jim Amormino said. "He probably used the money from the robbery to go buy some booze."

Since Starner was on probation for a previous burglary, and allegedly in possession of stolen property, officers were able to search his Laguna Niguel residence that night without a warrant.

Police said they didn't recover any money but found a handgun, a bicycle, clothes and a bag that matched the description of the one used by the suspect. The bike also matched the description of the one the suspect reportedly rode away on earlier that day.

Starner was also booked for allegedly robbing the Swirlz Frozen Yogurt shop two weeks earlier after police found clothing fitting the description of the clothing worn by the suspect in that crime.

Twitter: @TCNShortall

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