Wednesday, June 10, 2009

California: Attempted robbery at North Long Beach pawn shop ends with robber, employee shot

Long Beach, California

From the Press Telegram of June 9, 2009
Attempted robbery at North Long Beach pawn shop ends with robber, employee shot

Three would-be robbers stormed a North Long Beach pawn shop Tuesday morning armed with one gun and a lot of bravado.

When the suspects fled Long Beach Pawn & Jewelry, however, all they had to show for their efforts was a bullet from the shop supervisor's gun lodged in one suspect's leg, witnesses said.

The 64-year-old supervisor from Long Beach was also shot, and hit in the face, but is expected to survive, authorities said.

Police at the scene said the suspects clearly picked the wrong target, which is at 5106 Long Beach Blvd.

"I mean, who's stupid enough to try and rob a pawn shop?," said one witness, who spoke on condition of anonymity. "They have tons of security, it's covered in cameras, who doesn't know that?"

The witness told the Press-Telegram that he was walking into the pawn shop to pay his bill when the armed suspect walked in right before him. He recalled the gunman vividly due to his custom-looking, three-piece white suit, which looked like it belonged in church more than a pawn shop.

"(The shop's employees) even complimented him on his dress," the witness recalled, saying the suspect asked a female employee to show him some rings because he was shopping for his girlfriend.

After she took the armed man to the back of the shop, the other two suspects - dressed in casual clothes - rushed in, the witness said.

One man jumped the counter and the other stayed by the front door as the armed suspect ordered everyone on the floor. That prompted the shop's supervisor - who the witness knew only as Bob - to confront the trio, the witness said.

As the other employees ran to the back of the store and customers hit the ground, the shop's supervisor and the gunman faced off and both opened fire, the witness said.

The supervisor was shot in the cheek and fell back while one of the suspects was hit in the leg, the witness said.

"After the first shots I heard three more shots, and then (the suspects) crawled out of there," the witness said.

"They got nothing...but one of them left his gun behind," he added.

Long Beach police were called to the business at about 10:30 a.m. and confirmed an employee was shot but did not release any information about the shootout or the extent of the victim's injuries.

Long Beach Fire Department paramedics treated the victim at the scene and took him to a hospital. He was listed in mild distress and stable condition, said Capt. Jackawa Jackson.

The witness said that a river of blood gushed from the victim's cheek wound, prompting the witness to take off his shirt and use it to apply pressure to the wound while he talked to a 911 operator.

"He was saying 'I can't feel my arms, I can't feel my legs, I'm going to pass out, I'm going to die!" the witness recalled. "He was (going into shock) but we were able to keep him with us."

After the shooting, several people were seen inside the pawn shop talking with police. Shattered glass was scattered everywhere from the gunshots.

Detectives were checking security camera footage at the shop and other businesses in the area to help identify the suspects, said officers at the scene.

A search area was set up immediately after the botched robbery, but as of 5 p.m. the suspects were still at large, said Officer Jackie Bezart, an LBPD spokeswoman.

The three suspects were described as black males in their 20s, Bezart said.

Witnesses said the two suspects who were not armed were wearing sweat shirts with hoods and said the supervisor who was shot was an older man known to wear his gun in a holster while working in the shop.

They also said there were several more guns behind the counter, but that none of the other employees could get to the weapons because one suspect had jumped the counter and blocked their access.

"I hate to think what would have happened if Bob didn't have his gun," the witness said. "It probably would have turned into a take-over."


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