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Ventura County Focus / West | SANTA PAULA

Robbery Foiled After Worker Trips Alarm

January 21, 1998|VERONIQUE de TURENNE

A man who tried to rob a Kmart in Santa Paula fled empty-handed after an employee he ordered into a storage room slipped out the back door and tripped the store's alarm, according to police.

The man, who was not caught, entered the Faulkner Road store on Monday just before its 10 p.m. closing time, witnesses said. He hid in the aisles until after employees locked the front doors, police said. When someone confronted the man, he pulled a sawed-off shotgun out of his pants leg, pointed it at the employees and ordered them into the store's back room, said Santa Paula Police Cmdr. Bob Gonzales.

"He was brandishing the shotgun and told the employees to go in the back, to what is essentially a storage area," Gonzales said. "One man took him literally, and ran out the back door, which set off the alarm, which is very loud, and that sent the anxiety level way up."

In the confusion, the other 12 to 15 employees scattered and ran out the back door, followed by the equally frightened gunman, Gonzales said. The employees ran south and the gunman ran north, he said. Someone had called 911 to alert police, and they arrived within minutes of the incident, he said.

"We got a good description of the suspect, and are now working on finding him," Gonzales said. "The main thing is, no one got hurt."

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