A Phoenix man suspected of a three-week armed robbery spree is in custody after a robbery of a Rancho Cucamonga PetSmart, a shootout with federal agents and a pursuit that ended with him surviving a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head, authorities said Monday, Aug. 22.
On Saturday, Aug. 20, 26-year-old Samuel Smith entered the PetSmart at 10940 Foothill Blvd. and demanded money from the cashier at gunpoint, the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department said in a news release. It wasn’t immediately clear if Smith took any money from that store.
Shortly after, Smith was confronted by members of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in the store parking lot, the U.S. Justice Department said in a statement. As Smith opened the door of his car, he fired gunshots at an unmarked vehicle with a Bureau task force, prompting an officer in another car to return fire, according to the DOJ.
Uninjured by the gunfire, Smith then fled in his car on surrounding surface streets before pursuing sheriff’s deputies encountered Smith in Pomona, sheriff’s officials said. A pursuit intervention technique, also known as a PIT maneuver, stopped Smith’s car, the Sheriff’s Department said.
Inside the car, Smith was found with a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head, sheriff’s officials said. However, he was taken to a local hospital and was reported to be stable, the Sheriff’s Department said.
Smith told the officers that he accidentally shot himself under his chin when his car was rammed, the DOJ said.
No deputies or officers were injured in the incident, sheriff’s officials said.
Smith is suspected in robbing 10 stores in Southern California and Arizona, which included a Big Lots location in Riverside and PetSmart stores in Signal Hill, Orange, San Bernardino, Fontana, Pico Rivera, Redlands, Huntington Beach, Phoenix, and Rancho Cucamonga, the DOJ said.
During the armed robbery spree, Smith used a black handbag with pink trim and pointed a black handgun at store employees, the DOJ said. The total loss to the stores was $7,091, the DOJ said.
Smith was then taken into custody by federal agents, the Sheriff’s Department said.
Smith was charged Monday with interference with commerce by robbery, brandishing a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence and assault on a federal officer, the DOJ said.