A pawn shop clerk who was shot four times Wednesday during a hold-up that sparked two separate high-speed pursuits and led to the lockdown of the CSU Fullerton campus has undergone surgery to remove two bullets, according to a colleague who is at the hospital with the victim.
The chaos started about 3 p.m. at the Empire Jewelry and Pawn Shop in the 24500 block of Sunnymead Boulevard, just south of the Moreno Valley (60) Freeway, according to the Riverside County Sheriff's Department.
Witnesses told deputies that five men in ski masks and armed with .22- and .25-caliber handguns forced their way into the shop, robbed it and shot a clerk.
The wounded man was rushed to Riverside County Regional Medical Center. He was in critical but stable condition Wednesday night.
Doctors are waiting until the victim gets stronger to remove the remaining two bullets, the clerk’s colleague told NBC4.
Police said they were not releasing the names of the shop's employees or of the wounded man.
Within 15 minutes of the robbery, the California Highway Patrol began pursuing a charcoal-colored two-door Lexus identified as the getaway vehicle, headed westbound on the Moreno Valley Freeway.
The ensuing chase reached speeds of 100 mph going through Ontario and Pomona, according to the CHP. The suspects transitioned from the Moreno Valley Freeway to the southbound Orange (57) Freeway in Diamond Bar and made their way into Fullerton, where the pursuit ended near the Cal State Fullerton campus.
Only two suspects were spotted at that point, one of whom was immediately taken into custody by CHP officers. A second suspect fled on foot and carjacked a motorist, stealing her compact car. The status of that victim was not immediately known.
The second chase spanned more than 20 minutes, traveling west at a hair-raising pace on the Artesia (91) Freeway. The carjacker exited the freeway in Compton. The vehicle in the first pursuit was registered to a Compton resident.
The suspect plowed through multiple intersections, with police, CHP and sheriff's units close behind. The man, clad in a white T-shirt and dark pants, eventually drove into a public housing project parking lot near Alameda Street, bailed out and ran onto a baseball diamond, where he was tackled to the ground and arrested.
Meanwhile, police locked down the campus of Cal State Fullerton while they searched the area for outstanding suspects.
Fullerton police Sgt. Jeff Stuart said two suspects ran onto the campus toward Mihaylo Hall, and another ran south away from the campus. Police said two suspects were taken into custody on or near the campus, but as many as two more were still at large Wednesday night.