Two suspects have been charged in connection with an armed robbery involving an Asian couple at a 99 Ranch Market in Rowland Heights, California, in July, among other similar daytime robberies in the past five months.
A 64-year-old man and 51-year-old woman were loading their groceries into their vehicle in the store’s parking lot on July 9 when the pair of perps approached and demanded the man’s Rolex. They repeatedly pistol-whipped him before stealing his $60,000 watch and fleeing in a white Dodge Challenger with damaged plates.
Demoryie Watts, 21, was arrested in connection with the incident on Aug. 12. His alleged accomplice, Dangelo Thomas, 25, was apprehended on Aug. 31. Both Watts and Thomas were parolees and thus booked for parole violations, aside from robbery and possession of a firearm by an ex-felon. On Tuesday, Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón announced that they were formally charged, as well as a third person, 21-year-old Eric Burham, for his alleged role in one other robbery.
In addition to the 99 Ranch Market incident, the suspects have been accused of a series of daytime robberies in Glendale, Fullerton, La Puente, Rosemead and Temple City over the past five months. Thomas was charged with 12 counts of second-degree robbery and three counts of elder abuse, while Watts was charged with six counts of second-degree robbery and one count of elder abuse.
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Thomas and Watts also face “special allegations of personally using a firearm.” Meanwhile, Burham was charged with one count of second-degree robbery.
Gascón confirmed that most of the victims were Asian Americans. In May, all three suspects attacked a 35-year-old woman and a 31-year-old man in the 3800 block of San Fernando Road in Glendale, taking cash and various items.
“These brazen crimes – all of which occurred during the day – are deeply troubling. The victims had their sense of safety shattered,” Gascón said. “The majority of the people victimized were from the Asian American Community and I know that this has caused significant community trauma. I hope that all of those who have been impacted by this spree of violence sleep better tonight knowing that those who caused harm will be held accountable.”
The robberies reportedly resulted in the loss of tens of thousands of dollars in property. L.A. County Supervisor Hilda Solis also issued a statement in support of the victims.
“The trauma that was inflicted on the survivors was witnessed by many and will take time to recover and heal. The arrest and the charging of these individuals is part of the path toward justice and resolution of the trauma experienced by the survivors of these robberies,” Solis said in a statement.
Watts, who is being held without bail at the Twin Towers Correctional Facility, was scheduled to appear in Pomona Municipal Court on Tuesday morning. No jail information was available for Thomas and Burham.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department continues to investigate the case.