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Armored-Car Courier Shot by Robber in Long Beach

June 26, 2002|LOUIS SAHAGUN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

An armored-car courier was shot in the head at a North Long Beach warehouse grocery store Tuesday by a robber who fled in a sport utility vehicle, authorities said.

Gunfire erupted at 11 a.m. in the 2300 block of East 68th Street when a man surprised Victor Hurtado, 33, of Paramount, as he walked out of the Jetro Cash and Carry store with a satchel containing an undisclosed amount of cash, said Long Beach Police Officer Jana Blair.

Hurtado, who was listed in critical condition at Lakewood Regional Medical Center, was shot just a few feet from his Sectran Armored Car Service vehicle, Blair said.

Neither the victim nor the armored-car driver, who was uninjured, returned fire during the holdup, Blair said.

An hour later, a red two-door Chevrolet Blazer was found engulfed in flames about a mile away, authorities said.

Police searched the neighborhood where the Blazer was found, and interviewed three people who had put out the fire with hoses.

One was a woman who said she saw a beige pickup truck with three men and two women inside parked in an alley an hour before the shooting.

The group drove away shortly before the Blazer and a minivan arrived, she said.

"I went outside and noticed an intense smell of gasoline in the air," she said. "Then a young man got out of the minivan, walked up to the Blazer and tossed something inside, which caused an explosion of flames in the front seats."

Blair said, "It is possible that the suspect had people waiting for him in that alley. We're not ruling out anything."

In any case, Blair said, "it appeared the suspect had been waiting for the armored car to arrive at the Jetro store."

"As the courier walked out of the store, the suspect approached from the parking lot with a handgun," she said. "The driver tried to warn his partner, but was shot at and had to take cover."

Seconds later, she said, "the courier was shot in the head at close range."

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