Los Angeles: Three bandits are behind bars after a witness saw a woman being robbed in the Los Angeles Fashion District. The witness dialed 9-1-1 and provided the operator with a license plate number of the getaway car which helped lead police to the suspects.
On October 23, 2008, the witness information, along with surveillance footage in which the suspect was seen using a victim’s credit card to purchase gas, led to the arrest of Miguel Sanchez, 27, Gamaliel Hernandez, 22, and Hector Flores, 42. Sanchez was charged with seven counts of robbery and one count of attempt robbery. His bail is set at $2,555,000. Flores was charged with one count of mayhem and two counts of robbery and is being held in lieu of $180,000 bail. Hernandez was charged with one count of robbery and his bail amount was set at $75,000.
The armed bandits are believed to be responsible for at least 10 robberies that have occurred from May through September, mostly in the Fashion District. The robberies included two businesses and eight street muggings. Detectives said that the trio went on a brazen string of robberies and preyed mostly on Asian female victims who walked alone. The suspects approached their victims from behind and wrested their purses away. If any of the victims resisted, the suspect either threatened them with a handgun or physically harmed them.
Most of the robberies have taken place in the afternoon hours, with two incidents occurring in late morning. The robberies attribute to these suspects are summarized as follows:
- May 16, 2008, at 4:05 p.m., two suspects entered a business, pointed a handgun at an employee, ransacked the office, and took money.
- May 24, 2008, at 11:40 a.m., two suspects forced their way through a door as a customer was leaving a check cashing business. The suspects kicked an employee several times, ransacked the office and fled with an undisclosed amount of money.
- July 12, 2008, at 4:15 p.m., a woman was punched in the face after she refused to give up her purse. The suspect took the victim’s keys and fled. The woman was severely injured and suffered facial fractures.
- July 25, 2008, at 4:00 p.m., after a brief struggle with the suspect, a woman’s purse was pulled away from her.
- August 1, 2008, at 5:40 p.m., at gunpoint, two suspects made their way inside of a business, and demanded money. During the robbery, one of the victims was brutally kicked in the face.
- August 4, 2008, at 2:15 p.m., the suspects walked up to a woman from behind and punched her in the back of the head before stealing her purse.
- August 15, 2008, at 10:25 a.m., the suspects approached a female victim and stole her purse. When a witness tried to intervene, the suspect threatened that person with a handgun.
- August 29, 2008, at 5:15 p.m., a suspect violently pushed a woman to the ground and took her purse.
- September 6, 2008, at 11:45 a.m., a woman was walking up a stairway leading to her business when a suspect approached her and snatched her purse.
- September 8, 2008, at 4:00 p.m., a suspect struck a female victim in the head and took her purse. A witness saw the robbery go down, called 911 and provided the operator with the license plate number of the getaway car.
Investigators have determined that the surveillance tapes or mug shots should not be released to help ensure the validity of future identification of the suspects.
Detectives believe that the suspects are responsible for several more robberies and seeking additional witness.
Anyone with information regarding these robberies is asked to call Newton Division robbery detectives at (323) 846-6572. After hours or on weekends, calls may be directed to a 24-hour, toll-free number at 1-877-LAPD-24-7 or by texting CRIMES (274637) and beginning the message with the letters LAPD. Tipsters may also submit information on the LAPD website www.lapdonline.org. All tips will remain anonymous.