A brazen California gunman already on parole robbed a cellphone store outside Los Angeles, police said.
Lawrence Bell, 37, of Torrance, was wearing an ankle monitor when he stormed into a Boost Mobile store in Culver City on Sunday afternoon and pointed a semi-automatic handgun at two clerks, police said in a statement.
“The suspect then jumped over the counter and forced both employees to lay face down while he grabbed money from the cash register,” Culver City police said.
Bell made off with about $500 in cash and fled on foot, but officers realized upon reviewing surveillance footage that he dropped a set of car keys as he took off. Investigators soon located Bell’s vehicle, which was parked about a block away from the store, police said.
“When the officers looked inside the vehicle, they observed the clothing that was worn by the suspect in the rear seat,” the police account continued.
Cops then tracked down Bell nearby and he was detained without incident. A subsequent search of his car revealed a loaded Glock semi-automatic, as well as clothing he wore during the robbery and $500 in cash, police said.
Bell, who was charged with armed robbery, was already on parole for an earlier alleged heist and had on an ankle monitor as a condition of his release, authorities said.
The case will be presented to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, which is led by George Gascón, who has been dogged by accusations of being soft on crime. A recall campaign against him has generated more than 715,000 signatures, the Los Angeles Times reported Saturday, citing elections officials.
At least 566,857 valid signatures are needed before voters can decide whether to recall Gascón. Los Angeles County elections officials are attempting to verify them — with a deadline of Aug. 17, the newspaper reported.
The earliest date a recall election could be held is Nov. 8. If it ultimately goes to the polls, more than 50% of voters would need to support calls to remove the embattled prosecutor.
Gascón, who took office in late 2020, has endured mounting criticism for his progressive policies, including a rule against seeking the death penalty, a ban on transferring juvenile suspects to adult court and prohibitions on filing sentencing enhancements in most cases.
Violent crime in Culver City, which is part of Los Angeles County, is up some 90% in 2021 and 2022 when compared to figures from 2018 and 2019, CBS Los Angeles reported.
One resident who has lived in Culver City since the 1960s said she’s never experienced such an ongoing spike.
“To me, I think it’s the worst,” she told the outlet. “You’re afraid to go out sometimes, different places, because you don’t know what’s going on.”