Several men robbed a Moreno Valley jewelry store today and shot a clerk before fleeing the scene, racing onto a freeway where they were pursued by California Highway Patrol officers, culminating in a three-county chase that led to a carjacking and second pursuit.
The hold-up occurred around 3 p.m. at the Empire Jewelry and Pawn Shop in the 24500 block of Sunnymead Boulevard, just south of the Moreno Valley (60) Freeway, according to the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department.
Witnesses told deputies that five men in ski masks and armed with .22- and .25-caliber handguns forced their way into the shop, robbed it and shot a clerk.
The wounded man was rushed to Riverside County Regional Medical Center in stable condition.
Within 15 minutes of the robbery, the California Highway Patrol began pursuing a charcoal-colored two-door Lexus identified as the getaway vehicle, headed westbound on the 60.
The ensuing chase reached speeds of 100 mph going through Ontario and Pomona, according to the CHP. The suspects transitioned from the 60 to the southbound Orange (57) Freeway in Diamond Bar and made their way into the city of Fullerton, where the pursuit ended near the Cal State Fullerton campus.
Only two suspects were spotted at that point, one of whom was immediately taken into custody by CHP officers. A second suspect fled on foot and carjacked a motorist, stealing her compact car.
The status of that victim was not immediately known.
The second chase spanned more than 20 minutes, traveling west at a hair-raising pace on the Artesia (91) Freeway. The carjacker exited the freeway in the city of Compton. The vehicle in the first pursuit was registered to a Compton resident.
The suspect plowed through multiple intersections, with police, CHP and sheriff’s units close behind. The man, clad in a white T-shirt and dark pants, eventually drove into a public housing project parking lot near Alameda Street, bailed out and ran onto a baseball diamond, where he was tackled to the ground and arrested.
The whereabouts of the other suspects were not immediately known.
Police locked down the campus of Cal State Fullerton while they searched the area to determine if any other suspects were on the university grounds.