MORENO VALLEY (CBSLA.com) — Five armed robbery suspects led police on a high-speed chase and forced a university lockdown Wednesday after allegedly shooting a clerk at a Moreno Valley jewelry store.
The hold-up happened around 3 p.m. at the Empire Jewelry and Pawn Shop on the 24000 block of Sunnymead Boulevard.
Witnesses told deputies that five men in ski masks robbed the shop, shot the victim and then fled.
Resident John McGowan said he heard the gunshots.
“I saw the guys running out of the store and hop into one car. It looked like they carjacked somebody or something,” he said.
California Highway Patrol officers began to pursue the men, who were in a Lexus sedan registered to a Compton resident, from the Pomona (60) Freeway to the Orange (57) Freeway in Diamond Bar.
The suspects bailed out of their vehicle near Cal State Fullerton, where police were able to apprehend two of the suspects.
One of the men, however, carjacked a nearby vehicle and led police on another pursuit through Orange County and into Compton.
The suspect was finally taken into custody by dozens of cops after he jumped out of his car and ran on a baseball diamond in Watts.
The Los Angeles Police Department, including Chief Charlie Beck, happened to be on the scene participating in a toy drive.
“All of a sudden, we were there with the little kids and saw the bad guy jump over the fence being chased by an army of county sheriff’s across the baseball field,” said Commander Andrew Smith of the LAPD.
At around 4 p.m., Cal State Fullerton was put on lockdown because police believed one of the two remaining suspects was on campus at Mihaylo Hall. The other man fled somewhere in the city of Fullerton.
School officials canceled all evening classes and activities and urged students to remain indoors.
The Fullerton Police Department allowed some people to evacuate several academic buildings by 11 p.m.
Elise Lolli-Bregoff, who had been in a dark classroom with other students since the late afternoon, said she was in contact with family and friends with her cellphone.
She said students used a trash can as a restroom.
Seven agencies, including K-9 units and SWAT members, were still searching each building for the suspect as of 11 p.m.
“We saw the SWAT team with their guns drawn,” said student Catherine McCown. “We heard people yelling. Our teacher told us to move to the side of the classroom. Someone saw somebody getting handcuffed.”
Anders Howmann, the editor-in-chief of the school’s newspaper, told CBS2 that students told him they heard gunshots.