SANTA CLARITA — Valencia Town Center mall was doing business as usual Wednesday morning, shortly after sheriff's deputies ended a nine-hour manhunt for three men believed hiding in the 750,000-square-foot building following an armed robbery.
Five men--three with firearms--held up Victoria Jewelers in the center of the mall's lower level at 8:27 p.m. Tuesday and fled with $300 worth of jewels, said Deputy Gabe Ramirez of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Information Bureau.
The robbery was punctuated by a gunshot fired into the store wall, startling nearby merchants and shoppers, said Cori Upton, store manager for the Lerner New York clothing shop that faces the jewelry store.
"I was working in the front of the store," Upton said. "A bunch of people who were shopping took off running. I believe they saw the gunman.
For the Record
Los Angeles Times Friday November 19, 1993 Valley Edition Metro Part B Page 3 Column 5 Metro Desk 1 inches; 27 words Type of Material: Correction
Robbery--The estimated value of the goods taken in the robbery of Victoria Jewelers in the Valencia Town Center was $300,000. A report in The Times on Thursday incorrectly listed the amount.
"You hear the gun go off, you just duck," Upton said.
The shot was fired from a handgun to intimidate those in the jewelry store, Ramirez said, adding that no one was injured.
Patrick Lyn Hawkins, 26, of Inglewood and Damon Lamont Jones, 24, of Los Angeles were arrested on suspicion of armed robbery Tuesday night by officers as they left the mall. They were being held on $30,000 bail each at the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station.
Three other suspects are still at large. Patrons and most merchants were escorted out of the shopping center after 9 p.m., the regular closing time for the mall, as deputies searched the building.
Santa Clarita deputies and Los Angeles County special weapons team members used dogs to search the center's 110 stores and additional rooms. Officials called off the search after 6 a.m. Wednesday, without finding any weapons or additional suspects.
Deputies retrieved a brown Cadillac belonging to one of the suspects in custody. Law enforcement officials are also trying to determine if an empty van discovered Wednesday morning--three miles away along Tupelo Ridge Drive--with the engine running and no keys inside is linked to the robbery.
"This is the first time we've had any type of incident like this," said Kristin Mueller, general manager of the mall, which opened in September, 1992. "I think the response that took place (Tuesday) night was a strong message."
Merchants and patrons of the Valencia Town Center returned to their routines quickly Wednesday. The only signs of the robbery were the closed jewelry shop, covered by the metal gate used to secure it after closing time, and additional sheriff's deputies wandering through the mall.
"A lot of people don't know about it. It hasn't affected them," Upton said. "Really, last night it didn't affect them."