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Irvine man arrested after a UCI robbery and another near campus

Police have arrested an Irvine man suspected of committing back-to-back robberies of a student at UC Irvine and a motorist near the campus Monday night, according to authorities.

Police said they arrested Joshua Benbrook, 25, as he left his home about 9:30 a.m. Tuesday.

Investigators suspect Benbrook is responsible for the two holdups and a robbery in Fullerton in March.

On Monday night, UC Irvine police sent out a campuswide alert about a possible gunman at the university.

About 6:20 p.m., a man approached a female student as she walked across Watson Bridge on campus and demanded that she go to a nearby ATM and withdraw cash, according to authorities.

The robber implied he had a gun, and the student complied, according to Irvine police. After stealing the student’s money, the man fled, authorities said.

Robberies are rare at UC Irvine, with only five reported at the campus and UCI Medical Center in Orange between 2009 and 2014, according to UCI spokeswoman Cathy Lawhon.

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About 15 minutes after the Watson Bridge incident, another robbery was reported not far from the campus.

According to police, the same man pulled up behind a motorist who was waiting for a tow truck for his broken-down car near Culver and University drives.

The robber opened the glove box in his red sedan to reveal a gun and then stole the motorist’s wallet and cellphone before driving off, police said.

On March 6, a man driving a red sedan held up a convenience store on West Orangethorpe Avenue in Fullerton. The man walked in about 2:50 a.m. and brandished a handgun before stealing cash and food, according to Irvine police.

Police said they are trying to determine whether Benbrook may be tied to any other cases.

Anyone with information may contact Fullerton Det. Veronica Gardea at (714) 738-6728, Irvine Det. Victoria Hurtado at (949) 724-7194 or UCI Det. Sgt. Charles Chon at (949) 824-5223.

jeremiah.dobruck2@latimes.com

Twitter: @jeremiahdobruck


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