Gunfire Exchanged; Suspect Arrested at 6:45 a.m.
By Mitch Lehman
EDITOR OF THE TRIBUNE
More than seventy law enforcement and safety officials spent most of the early hours of Sunday morning setting up a containment operation at San Marino High School, eventually taking into custody an armed robbery suspect who was chased onto the property by police officers.
The suspect, described as a white male in his early to mid-twenties, was apprehended without further incident this morning at 6:30 a.m.
The ordeal began shortly after midnight, when the suspect robbed the 7-11 store in Alhambra near Atlantic and Garfield that was occupied by about a half dozen customers, according to a source. A female patron followed the suspect, who had taken the store’s cash register, as he fled eastbound on Huntington Drive through San Marino. The citizen dialed 911 ans remained in pursuit. Alhambra police officers joined the chase and the caravan was met by officers from the San Marino Polce Department at the corner of Huntington Dr. and Del Mar Blvd. The suspect exited his vehicle and reached for his waistband when an officer – believed to be from the Alhambra Police Department – fired two shots at the suspect. One report claimed that the suspect returned fire, but that claim has not been substantiated. Police officers chased the suspect onto the property of San Marino High School, up the west drive and eventually lost their mark near the school’s tennis courts. Backus arrives, the local SWAT team was assembled and a K9 operation was summoned.
Police officials spent the better part of the night in containment and pursuit and the suspect was finally taken into custody on the Titan Stadium track as he apparently attempted to casually exit the scene as daylight approached.
Of added concern to safety officials was the presence on campus of several vehicles belonging to SMHS students and families that were parked while cast and crew members of the high school’s spring drama presentation of ‘Hairspray’ were off-site attending a wrap party following the show’s final production. San Marino Fire Chief Jim Frawley became concerned as his son was attending the party, which reportedly was going on later than expected. Frawley did not want students to return to the campus and pick up their vehicles with an armed suspect still on the loose, so he contacted adults at the party and encouraged them to help students find alternate transportation.
Frawley spent the night at the containment scene along with members of his firefighter-paramedic unit in case they were needed. Several San Marino Police officers were summoned to the site, including members of the regional SWAT team.
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