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Watch shop owner shoots would-be robber at Westminster mall

July 30, 2012 |  5:49 pm

Two robbery suspects were being guarded by police at area hospitals Monday afternoon after a robbery at an Orange County mall was thwarted when the owner of a watch shop shot one of the suspects in the head, police said.

Police received several 911 calls reporting gunshots at the Asian Garden Mall in Westminster's Little Saigon about 1:10 p.m., said Westminster police Sgt. Cameron Knauerhaze. Officers were at the scene within a minute, he said, and found one of the suspects as he ran from the scene.

A passerby and a security guard had detained a second suspect, Knauerhaze said.

The suspects entered the Tick Tock watch shop minutes before posing as customers, Knauerhaze said. One of the suspects posed as a physically disabled man, arriving in a wheelchair.

Once inside, the two drew a handgun and ordered the shop's employees and customers to the ground, Knauerhaze said.

"One of the shop owners was in the back, heard this going on, armed himself with his own gun and decided -- in a very courageous move -- to confront the gunman," Knauerhaze said.

The owner walked into the store's lobby and ordered the suspect to drop the gun, Knauerhaze said. When the suspect didn't, the owner fired.

The suspect was shot once in the head and is hospitalized in critical but stable condition, Knauerhaze said. The second suspect was taken to a different hospital with a preexisting condition.

After speaking to witnesses, investigators were looking for a third possible suspect, a man driving a silver Honda Accord who was seen dropping the men off at the mall. No license plate information was immediately available for the vehicle.

Knauerhaze described the incident as "isolated," saying it was an uncommon occurrence for the shopping center.

"This is a safe place ... we're thankful that everybody's OK," he said. "It was poor planning on the suspects' part to try and rob a very busy mall in the middle of the day."

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— Kate Mather

Follow Kate Mather on Twitter or Google+.

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