A 33-year-old guard was patrolling just after midnight Thursday when the suspect stopped in a black van near 3rd and Figueroa streets and walked toward the guard. He asked the guard, "Where's Figueroa Street?"
The guard said he considered the question odd, but stepped back and pointed to the street. According to the guard, that's when the man swung a Tech 9 submachine gun from behind his back and said, "Give me your wallet, or I'll kill you."
The guard gave his wallet to the suspect, who pointed the gun barrel at the victim's head. The guard was kneeling on the ground.
The guard said with the robber's attention on the wallet, he grabbed the gun with one hand and swung the flashlight with his right hand, hitting the robber in the head.
The robber fell back, stunned and released the gun.
The guard struck several more blows, this time to the groin, and ran away with the gun.
Police later found the gun's ammunition and the robber's glasses at the scene.
The blood-stained flashlight and submachine gun are being tested for DNA evidence and fingerprints.
LAPD detectives described the suspect as a Black man about 40 years old, wearing a full Laker's uniform, with a gash to his head.
The suspect's black van was an early 1990s model with a luggage rack.
Anyone with information is asked to call Detective Al Rasch with Central Robbery Unit at (213) 972- 1245. Anonymous tips can be made with Crimestoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS or by texting 274637 (CRIMES) with a cell phone. All text messages should begin with the letters "LAPD."