One of two male suspects has been arrested in connection with an armed robbery at a 99 Ranch Market in Rowland Heights, California, on July 9.
The victims, an Asian couple, were reportedly walking to their vehicle when the pair of hooded robbers approached them and demanded the male victim’s watch.
The robbers pistol-whipped the victims before they could comply. They then took the watch — a $60,000 Rolex — and fled in a white Dodge Challenger with damaged plates, according to reports.
“Lot of my friends they pay a lot of attention to this,” Edward Cai, who owns the nearby Happy Harbor Restaurant, told NBC Los Angeles. “We were pretty scared and less and less people came to consume because of this case.”
A cell phone video of the attack helped authorities in their investigation. On Friday, police arrested 21-year-old Demoryie Watts in his Lancaster home.
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During their search, police found the suspect’s vehicle and a handgun but not the Rolex watch. They learned that Watts was already out on parole for a previous carjacking arrest.
Watts was booked for robbery, being a felon in possession of a firearm and a parole violation. He remains in custody while authorities search for his accomplice.
The incident came amid a spike in violent crimes against Asian Americans. So far, no evidence has been found to warrant a hate crime investigation.
In a statement, Sheriff Alex Villanueva expressed concerns that despite their work, District Attorney George Gascón has not aggressively pursued charges. Villanueva seeks a gun enhancement and potential gang enhancement to increase Watts’ sentence if convicted, according to the Los Angeles Times. “Our concern is now the District Attorney is not filing cases. Last year, 13,677 cases where we went to a call, spoke to victims, prepared a report, arrested a suspect, had all the evidence presented to the District Attorney and he refused to file charges because it was a special order and that blanket policy allowed a lot of people to continue harming the community,” Villanueva said.
Gascón’s office vowed to continue working with detectives on the case.
“The District Attorney’s office is reviewing the investigative reports before determining the appropriate criminal charges to file. We will continue to work with Sheriff’s detectives in this case,” the office told ABC7 News. “Our Bureau of Victim Services remains available to assist anyone impacted by these crimes.”