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SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA / A news summary

2 Plead Not Guilty in Target Hostage-Taking

November 09, 2000

LOS ANGELES — Two parolees accused of holding hostages during a robbery attempt on Monday at a Culver City Target department store pleaded not guilty Wednesday.

Laron Vashon Bass, 20, of Inglewood, and Omar Ahda Samuels, 22, of Altadena, were each ordered to stand trial on 28 counts of robbery, kidnapping and assault. They face life in prison if convicted, officials said. The arraignment was held at the Airport Courthouse.

Authorities allege that the men--along with 16-year-old Charles Allison Bass, a third suspected accomplice--attempted the holdup early Monday morning during a shift change at the massive Target store, one of the busiest in the nation.

The younger Bass, of Inglewood, was charged as an adult with robbery on Tuesday. Sandi Gibbons, spokeswoman for the district attorney's office, said prosecutors added counts against the teenager Wednesday, giving him the same number of charges as the two others.

Dressed as employees, the three walked into the Target about 4 a.m. Monday and briefly held at least 60 workers at gunpoint, police said.

The robbery failed when Culver City police were alerted and about 80 officers surrounded the 136,000-square-foot store.

The robbers eventually tried to escape by mixing in with the employees, who ran out of the store in large groups. But police stopped Laron Bass and Samuels.

Both were on probation. Bass' probation stems from a burglary conviction in September 1999. Samuels is on probation after being convicted of robbery in March.

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