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1 arrested, 1 sought in Santa Ana robbery of Vietnam veteran in wheelchair

March 17, 2011 |  1:00 pm

One man was in custody Thursday and another was being sought for allegedly robbing a Vietnam veteran in a wheelchair of his Social Security income, Santa Ana police said.

Michael Neal Shaurette, 62, was going to McDonalds about 8:15 p.m. Tuesday when he was confronted by two men in the 300 block of East 1st Street, said Cpl. Anthony Bertagna of the Santa Ana Police Department.

One of the suspects, identified as Robert Dean Joyce, 41, allegedly grabbed Shaurette’s arms and pinned them down on the wheelchair, Bertagna said.

“[Joyce’s] statement to Mr. Shaurette was ‘give me your money’,” Bertagna said.

Another suspect rifled through Shaurette’s bag and found a wallet with $80 inside, Bertagna said. A further search of the bag turned up a white U.S. bank envelope with $800 inside.

Shaurette, who recently moved back to Orange County from Colorado, told police he had cashed his government disability check earlier that day, and it was all the cash he had.

The suspects took the money and fled, Bertagna said. Authorities launched an aggressive search that included the use of bloodhounds from the Orange County Sheriff's Department, Bertagna said.

Hours later, Joyce was located at a local hotel, where he was positively identified by Shaurette and later arrested. He was being held on suspicion of robbery, authorities said.

Joyce’s accomplice, described by police as a 20- to 25-year-old man, about 5-foot-10 and 175 pounds with a dark complexion, remained at large, Bertagna said.

Bertagna said people who want to help Shaurette may donate assistance through the Santa Ana Police Department Foundation.

“They are working on getting him a place to stay and trying to keep him going until his gets his next check,” Bertagna said.

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-- Ann M. Simmons

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