Crime

Arrests made in Santa Maria robbery investigations that occurred less than hour apart

Police: No definitive link to earlier shooting

SANTA MARIA, Calif. - Several arrests were made in Santa Maria Tuesday night in two armed robberies that occurred less than an hour apart.

A dramatic scene unfolded along the intersection of Donovan and Lynne just after 6:00 p.m. backing up traffic and attracting a large crowd of onlookers. 

“I did see a couple guys go, they have the suspects in the cop cars,” said Jessica Asaro, a Santa Maria woman who lives nearby.

At least four people were arrested. Two suspects were teens and two were adults, police say. The adult suspects were identified by police as 20-year-old Christian Ambriz, and 23-year-old Luis Ruben. Investigators are not releasing booking photos of the two adults at this time citing the ongoing investigation.

Community members lining the sidewalk as police investigated, say the people apprehended were robbing the neighborhood and they tried to get out of the car and make a run for it. 

“They took the suspects out of the cars and they were all handcuffed and they were just recently taking pictures of them,” said Asaro, describing the scene. 

Authorities say at about 4:56 p.m., an armed robbery was reported in the area of Dena and Lesley streets where two victims described multiple suspects robbing them at gunpoint before fleeing in a dark-colored vehicle.

At 5:20 p.m., a second armed robbery was reported in the area of Oakley Park. In that case, witnesses told police that multiple Hispanic male suspects robbed the victim at gunpoint before fleeing in a dark-colored vehicle.

"Soon after the second reported robbery, SMPD Officers attempted to stop a similar vehicle, occupied by four males, in the area of Donovan and Lynne Drive," states a news release from the Santa Maria Police Department. "A vehicle pursuit ensued and the suspects then fled on foot. All four suspects were ultimately arrested and multiple firearms were recovered."

Police say the car towed away from the scene matches the description of the vehicle involved in what officials believe to be a gang-related shooting in broad daylight, earlier Tuesday. However, as of Wednesday morning, SMPD says, "There has been no definitive link established between these robbery suspects and the shooting."

“It was kind of difficult to process it because I’ve never really seen a body on the floor where someone got shot so it was like whoa,” said a witness who asked to remain anonymous. 

Just before 11:00 a.m. Tuesday, officers found a man with multiple gunshot wounds on the corner of Western Avenue and Battles Road. 

Police say the suspects took off before officers arrived in a dark-colored four-door car. 


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