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Cal State Fullerton lockdown: Suspect picks wrong place to run

December 12, 2012 |  8:45 pm

The date 12-12-12 may have been lucky for weddings and babies, but not for a suspect involved in the high-speed pursuit that locked down Cal State Fullerton for hours Wednesday evening.

In an attempt to escape, one of the men stole a silver sedan just south of the campus, then sped onto rush-hour traffic on the 91 Freeway. He ended up in Watts, where he pulled over at the Imperial Courts Recreation Center and began to run, as hundreds of children were gathering for a toy drive organized by the Los Angeles Police Department. About 30 police officers were on hand assisting with the event. Police Chief Charlie Beck was due to arrive any moment.

“He was an unlucky crook to pick that field,” said Cmdr. Andrew Smith, who was at the park as helicopters hovered and the man, clutching his waistband, jumped a fence and accidentally ran toward the crowd of officers.

Officers had been following the chase over their radios and immediately began to race after the man. Some moved the children and parents aside as others drew their weapons.

“He had sheriffs on one side and police on the other with nowhere to go,” Smith said.

Moments later, the man threw his arms in the air and hit the ground, spread-eagle.  His identity has not be released.

The wild chase began about 3 p.m. in Moreno Valley when the suspect and four others robbed Empire Jewelry and Loan, a pawnshop. They shot an employee, who remains in stable but critical condition, then fled in a gray Lexus.

Leading multiple police agencies on a chase that spanned Riverside, San Bernardino, Orange and Los Angeles counties, the group of men stopped in Fullerton.

There, two men were taken into custody and two escaped. One is believed to be hiding inside a building at Cal State Fullerton. Police locked down the campus about 4 p.m., focusing on Mihaylo Hall, a business and economics building where he was last seen. SWAT members were clearing the building, room by room, as students and staff remain sheltered inside, blocking doors and windows with furniture.

The man whose luck ran out in Watts stole a car and tried to flee.

But his plan didn’t quite pan out.

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- Esmeralda Bermudez

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