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Student Booked in Botched Kmart Heist

January 22, 1998|ROBERT GAMMON

An 18-year-old high school student was booked into County Jail on Wednesday on suspicion of attempted robbery, criminal conspiracy and kidnapping in a botched Kmart heist on Monday.

Investigators arrested Peter Morales Zepeda, a student at Santa Paula High School, after a witness identified him and several others picked out his picture in a photo lineup, Santa Paula Police Sgt. Carlos Juarez said.

Juarez said a surveillance camera captured Zepeda on tape as he allegedly held a sawed-off shotgun in his right hand. Detectives believe that Zepeda conspired with another man to rob the store, but that the other man ran out of the store before the holdup and remains at large.

Officers arrested Zepeda after searching a home on North Steckel Drive, where investigators say they found evidence linking him to the crime. Information from a relative led them to a home in the 600 block of East Santa Barbara Street, where Zepeda was later arrested.

Police said the attempted robbery began after a man entered the Kmart store on Faulkner Road before it closed at 10 p.m. Monday.

After the doors were locked, he pulled out a shotgun, cocked it and ordered the 15 employees into the store's back room. But one of the workers ran out the back door, setting off the emergency alarm.

The gunman then fled empty-handed. Juarez said a shotgun, which had no fingerprints on it, was found nearby.

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