WEST COVINA — Two men are due in court Friday to face charges including armed robbery, kidnapping and possession of marijuana for sales after a takeover robbery at a crowded West Covina cell phone store, authorities said.
Police arrested Jose Cruz Gutierrez, 23, and Julio Marcos Aguilar, 20, both of Desert Hot Springs, minutes after Wednesday’s 5:12 p.m. robbery at the AT&T store, 100 S. California Ave., West Covina police Cpl. Rudy Lopez said.
A witness called police to report a “robbery in progress” at the store, which was filled with employees and customers, the corporal said.
“The caller relayed information that a gunman entered the store brandishing a handgun, demanding that everyone lay down on the floor,” he said.
The gunman stole cash from the registers and ordered and employee to open a safe in which new iPhones were kept, Lt. Richard Bell said.
The gunman, later identified as Gutierrez, appeared to know that the phones would be stored in the safe, Lopez added.
The gunman also stole a phone from a store customer before fleeing into a car with a waiting driver, later identified as Aguilar, he said.
The witness was able to provide police with a description of the getaway car, he said, and officers spotted it nearby on Vincent Avenue.
“A short chase followed after which the suspect vehicle pulled over to the curb in the 1000 block of West Covina Parkway,” Lopez said. A handgun was then tossed out of the passenger side of the car.
“At one point, the front passenger (Gutierrez) opened the door and began to bend down toward the handgun,” Lopez said.
Officers shot him once with a bean bag projectile and he retreated back into the car, officials said. Both men were than arrested without further incident.
The stolen cash and phones were recovered, Lopez said, and the handgun was found to be loaded and reported stolen out of Moreno Valley.
Additionally, officers discovered some marijuana, packaged for sales, inside the car, police said.
Gutierrez and Aguilar were booked on suspicion of armed robbery, kidnapping, possession of stolen property, possession of a loaded firearm, evading police and possession of a controlled substance for sales.
They were being held in lieu of $1 million bail at the West Covina Police Department jail, Lopez said.
According to sheriff’s booking records, Gutierrez and Aguilar were due to be arraigned Friday in West Covina Superior Court.