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3 gang members arrested in Nordstrom Rack robbery

January 13, 2013 |  7:00 pm

Los Angeles police confirmed Sunday evening the arrests of three suspected gang members in the takeover robbery at the Nordstrom Rack in Westchester last week.

The Times first reported two arrests, one on Friday and the second Saturday in Phoenix. Sources familiar with the investigation described the man arrested in Phoenix as a principal suspect but would give no further details.

In a press release Sunday, the LAPD said that a total of three suspects had been arrested but did not give additional details.

Police would not release the suspects’ identities, nor would they detail how the suspects were taken into custody or their alleged roles in the robbery and hostage situation.

Sources said they had strong evidence linking the men to the crime, including physical evidence and security camera video. Prosecutors will decide this week whether to file charges.

The incident began about 11 p.m. Thursday at the Promenade at Howard Hughes Center, near the 405 Freeway. The LAPD called a tactical alert and closed off the area around the shopping center.
When the Police Department's SWAT officers arrived, they surrounded the store. At one point, one suspect exited, saw the police and ran back inside.

A second suspect walked out with an unidentified woman, saw police and also headed back inside. The officers entered the store at 3:30 a.m. and freed the hostages.

At least three of the hostages were injured, including one woman who was sexually assaulted. Another woman was stabbed in the neck and sustained non-life-threatening injuries, and a third employee was pistol-whipped, police said.

It was unclear whether the robbers hid in the store or gained entrance after it closed. It was also not clear precisely how long they remained in the store before fleeing, and police would not say how much cash was taken in the robbery.

At least two employees hid in the restroom, LAPD officials said. The rest of the group was herded into a storage room by the robbers, except for one woman who was taken separately and sexually assaulted, police said.

To help identify the suspects, LAPD Robbery-Homicide detectives conducted numerous witness interviews and examined surveillance video from inside and outside the Nordstrom Rack as well as from surrounding businesses.

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--Andrew Blankstein

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