A Los Alamitos police sergeant single-handedly captured an armed-robbery suspect on Wednesday, freeing a hostage taken at the entrance of El Dorado Park in neighboring Long Beach.
"It went down so fast," said Sgt. Bill Barrett. ". . . From the time I called it in to the time the suspect was in custody was less than five minutes. I didn't have time to think about it."
Barrett was on patrol when he was flagged down by a man, waving his arms, to report an armed robbery that had just occurred at a Taco Bell restaurant in Long Beach, said Lt. Gary Biggerstaff, patrol division commander for the Los Alamitos police.
After calling in the robber's description, Barrett followed the suspect's escape route down Los Alamitos Boulevard and across Cerritos Avenue, back into Long Beach. In the middle of Spring Street, in front of El Dorado Park, he found the alleged robber's Vespa scooter, with some loose bills blowing past.
"I figured the lady in the booth at El Dorado Park might have seen him," Barrett said, "and as I pulled up, the suspect came out of the booth with his arm around the parking attendant.
"I didn't see it, but I was assuming he had a gun in her back because she was pretty hysterical."
Barrett drew his gun and crouched behind his patrol car's door as the suspect twice disappeared from sight briefly, then threw something onto the grass, he said. "The object that he threw turned out to be a gun. It was a blue steel, six-inch revolver."
The sergeant persuaded the suspect to raise his arms and release the woman.
The park attendant "was shaken up but she wasn't physically hurt at all," Barrett said.
The suspect, 17, a Long Beach resident, was turned over to Long Beach police, Biggerstaff said. His name was not released because he is a juvenile.
The suspect was held Thursday at Los Padrinos Juvenile Hall in Downey on suspicion of kidnaping and two counts of armed robbery, according to Long Beach police.
The suspect is being questioned about other robberies in the area, police said.