Deputy shoots robbery suspect
Officials say man likely linked to several cases
By KATHERINE ROSENBERG Staff Writer
VICTORVILLE — The investigation into a rash of takeover robberies ended early Wednesday night when a suspect was shot by a deputy outside the Travelodge hotel on Mariposa Road near Bear Valley Road.
The identity of the gunshot victim was not being released late Wednesday, although authorities from the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Hesperia and Victorville stations identified the man as a suspect in four takeover robberies and one attempted robbery. He was being pursued at the time of the shooting, officials said.
Sgt. Ross Tarangle had been leading the team at the hotel prior to the shooting and confirmed the gunshot victim was related to the takeover robberies.
"We were here to apprehend an armed and dangerous parolee at large, and during the contact, shots were fired. This was part of that ongoing investigation," Tarangle said.
Michael Stenerson / Staff Photographer Medics tend to an injured man in the parking lot of the Victorville Travelodge hotel Wednesday. The man is a suspect in a series of takeover robberies.
On Monday, a man entered the Del Taco on Hesperia Road near the Von's shopping center, robbing the business at gunpoint in a takeover. Detectives from the Victorville station determined the suspect in that robbery was the same person who tried to rob the Spirit Shop on Seventh Street, but that robbery was foiled.
There were three takeover robberies in Hesperia between July 30 and Aug. 13. The Mc-Donald's at Main Street and Maple Avenue was robbed, takeover style, twice. Another Del Taco location, at Main and Eighth streets was also hit, according to Roxanne Walker, spokeswoman for the Hesperia station. Investigators from both stations were able to determine they were after the same suspect for the robberies — the unnamed gunshot victim. Reportedly Hesperia officials have also identified an additional suspect in their cases.
Heavily armed Specialized Enforcement Detail team members were on hand to give support.
All this, just one week after the arrest of two men by Victorville detectives on suspicion of four other takeover robberies. Investigators say the abundance of risky robberies is more a coincidence than a trend.
"It's a recurring thing — we've had rashes of them in the past, and it's cyclic, just like anything else. I don't know if you can attribute any rhyme or reason to it. By virtue of the population up here, the more people you get the more crimes you're going to see," said Sgt. Robert Boyd of the Victorville station.
Onlookers watch as authorities surround the Travelodge Hotel located in the 1200 block of Mariposa Road where an officer involved shooting took place Wednesday afternoon. Mariposa Road was blocked off from Bear Valley Road north to Monarch Boulevard.
Detective Sgt. Bob Hughes, also of the Victorville station, oversaw a team that served a search warrant in Adelanto about 9 a.m. Wednesday at the listed parole address for the suspect. That proved fruitless and deputies from the Hesperia station are believed to have served another search warrant at the house of the suspect's girlfriend. They later learned the man was hiding out in a room at the Travelodge and spent much of the day trying to coax him out before the shooting took place about 6 p.m., officials said.
A car is seen in the bushes of the Travelodge hotel's parking lot. One man was injured and airlifted to Loma Linda University Medical Center.
Authorities said the man was identified in the robberies after he was involved in a single- vehicle accident. While a deputy was investigating the crash, a resident came out of their home and said that they found a gun in their backyard. Evidence from other robberies was found in the vehicle as well, which led authorities to identify the suspect. The suspect who was shot and the second suspect identified by Hesperia deputies are gang members, officials said.
It was unclear how the officer-involved shooting began, as investigators were on scene waiting for the man to emerge from his hotel room. The shooting took place around 6 p.m. and Mariposa Road was blocked off from Bear Valley Road to Monarch Boulevard, the eventual site of the helicopter landing. Dozens of bystanders who were unable to exit restaurants like Marie Callendar's, Carl's Jr. and KFC gathered behind yellow police tape to find out what happened.
As is usual, members of the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department Homicide Detail were called to investigate the shooting and details were not released late Wednesday night.
Steve Rotuna was staying in the Travelodge and had just left his hotel room when he heard the shots.
"They were chasing someone, and I came out of my room and heard them yelling, 'Hold it, hold it,' and then it's pop, pop, pop, pop, pop, pop, pop. I'm ducking down because I didn't hear the bullets ricocheting and that's the last thing I want — to get shot," Rotuna said.
He said he was ordered to go back into his room, but when he told authorities where his room was they told him to get down the stairs and out of the way.
"It sounded to me almost like blanks, like a movie, but I wasn't taking any chances. It sounded so close, that's real enough for me," Rotuna said.
Medics tend to an injured man as they wheel his stretcher to a Mercy Air helicopter Wednesday afternoon. The man is a robbery suspect.
The suspected robber was flown by air ambulance to an area trauma center for treatment, but his condition was not available Wednesday night. The shooting will remain under investigation by the Homicide Detail.
This is one of the best Robbery Arrests that I heard of in a long time. I feel that I owe the Deputy a round of High BSRanch Marks for his great work in not only Catching the suspect but taking great caution and aim in saving his life and the lives of many others. That is really All that I am going to say on this. other then Good job. well done.