Suspect jailed following string of baseball bat robberies at San Gabriel Valley convenience stores

Deputies arrested a man Thursday following a series of five baseball bat robberies at San Gabriel Valley convenience stores in matter of hours, authorities said.
Malcom Buchanan, 19, of Duarte was booked in connection with the final robbery in Thursday’s spree at a gas station in unincorporated East Pasadena as officials continued investigating him in connection with the other four robberies, police and sheriff’s officials said.
While a concrete link had not been established Thursday afternoon, ““They’re definitely looking into it,” Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Ignacio Somoano said.
The string of robberies began shortly after midnight at a 7-Eleven store in San Dimas, investigators said. Similar robberies and attempted robberies were then reported in West Covina, Monrovia, Arcadia and unincorporated Pasadena before deputies spotted a car matching the description of one used in at least one of the robberies was spotted, stopped and arrested by deputies from the sheriff’s Temple Station in Duarte, sheriff’s Sgt. Lynette O’Brien said.
Sgt. Pete Shupe of the sheriff’s San Dimas station said masked robber entered the 7-Eleven at 660 E. Foothill Blvd. at 12:11 a.m.
He found a clerk working in a back stockroom, Lt. Andy Berg said.
The bat-wielding robber ordered the clerk to the front of the store and demanded cash from the register, officials said.
When the clerk opened the register, he said the robber reached in, took $200 and fled the store.
About half an hour later, a masked man lugging a baseball bat then showed up at the 7-Eleven at 1319 W. Merced Ave. in West Covina around 12:42 a.m.
“He told the clerk ‘Give me the money’ while holding the bat threateningly,” West Covina Police Lt. David Lee said.
The robber grabbed about $350 from the till and left.
Lee said the suspect was last seen in a white vehicle, possibly a van or a sport utility vehicle. A second suspect was driving the vehicle.
The robber was described as possibly Latino, around 5 feet 5 inches tall and about 150 pounds.
In the San Dimas case, the robber wore a gray jacket, officials said.
Initial investigation indicated the same robber was involved in both crimes, Berg said.
Nearly 11 hours passed before three more incidents of convenience store robberies involving a suspect armed with a baseball bat were reported.
Monrovia police responded to a report of a similar robbery about 11:25 a.m. at 7-Eleven, 922 W. Duarte Road, officials said. Again, the robber brandished a baseball bat during the crime.
A witness to the Monrovia crime was able to provide police with a description and license plate of the getaway car, which was immediately broadcast to nearby law enforcement agencies.
Another attempted heist involving a baseball bat wielding suspect occurred minutes later at a liquor store in the 800 block of West Huntington Drive in Arcadia, Arcadia police Lt. Tom Cullen said.
It was unclear what caused him to abandon the robbery attempt and flee empty-handed.
Minutes after the Arcadia crime, a man with a baseball bat arrived at a gas station at Colorado Boulevard and Michillinda Avenue in an unincorporated county area east of Pasadena, O’Brien said.
A witness provided investigators with the license plate number of the getaway car, and deputies spotted the vehicle
Deputies searching the area spotted the vehicle and pulled it over on Bashor Street near Vineyard Avenue in Duarte about noon.
There was no description of a second robber who may have partnered with the suspect in at least some of the alleged crimes.
The robbery in San Dimas capped off a particularly unfortunate month for the convenience store.
It was the third incident at the store in recent weeks, which has also experienced another robbery, as well as a car crashing through the front window, officials said. The same clerk was working during all three incidents.
A man brandished a pistol in a robbery at the store on May 14, Berg said. He was described as black, 25 years old, about 5 feet 8 inches tall and 160 pounds, investigators said. He wore a dark green hooded sweatshirt and black pants.
A car Sunday smashed through the front window of the Foothill Boulevard convenience store, officials said.
No crime was suspected in connection with the crash, in which a 50-year-old San Dimas man’s 1990 Honda Accord struck the store after his foot slipped off the brake pedal and onto the accelerator, Sgt. Victor Ibarra said.

- Staff writers Ruby Gonzales and Melissa Pinion-Whit contributed to this report.

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