Friday, December 28, 2012

Suspect Who Caused Cal State Fullerton Lock Down is in Custody

One of five men suspected in a Moreno Valley jewelry store hold-up and shooting that led to a multi-county police chase and the lockdown of a university earlier this month was being held today without bail.

Roosevelt Andrew Fernandez, 26, of Compton was arrested Wednesday afternoon after he was identified as one of the alleged bandits involved in a Dec. 12 robbery at Empire Jewelry and Loan, 24571 Sunnymead Blvd.

Fernandez was found in Long Beach and arrested without incident, according to the Riverside County Sheriff's Department, which did not disclose how he was linked to the crime.

Fernandez was booked into the Robert Presley Jail in Riverside on suspicion of attempted murder, robbery, conspiracy and parole violations.

His alleged cohorts -- Los Angeles residents Jerome Bernard Allen, 23, Damine Lavonte Banks, 30, and Traevon Cortez Vidaud, 24 -- are facing 20-plus years in prison if convicted of attempted murder, robbery and gang activity charges with multiple sentence-enhancing gun and great bodily injury allegations.

They're slated to be arraigned at the Riverside Hall of Justice on Jan. 3.

Four masked men armed with small-caliber pistols burst into the pawn shop in the middle of the afternoon and broke into display cases, stealing merchandise and shooting a clerk before fleeing in a charcoal-colored Lexus driven by a fifth suspect.

The bandits fled west on the Moreno Valley (60) Freeway, where they were spotted a few minutes later by the California Highway Patrol, whose officers pursued them at speeds of 100 miles per hour through San Bernardino, Los Angeles and Orange counties.

The robbers made their way south on the Orange (57) Freeway to Fullerton, where the chase ended on Nutwood Avenue, near Mihaylo Hall at the Cal State Fullerton campus.

Allen and Banks fled on foot and were arrested at or near the university, but two other men fled across the campus and melted in with the crowd.

Vidaud allegedly carjacked a motorist nearby, stealing his silver compact car, triggering a high-speed 20-minute chase that went west onto the Artesia (91) Freeway until the ex-con reached Compton, where he plowed through multiple intersections before pulling into the Imperial Courts Recreation Center in Watts and bailing on foot.

The spot happened to be where Los Angeles police Chief Charlie Beck and other officers were distributing gifts to underprivileged youngsters, and several of those officers helped chase down the defendant.

Meantime, at Cal State Fullerton, an estimated 10,000 people, mostly students, were stranded on the campus for more than seven hours as authorities searched for the two outstanding suspects.

The fifth man has not been identified.

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