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Deputy mistakenly fires at WeHo robbery victim

October 3, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
A sheriff's deputy opened fire at a man he thought had robbed a liquor store in West Hollywood early Sunday, but mistakenly shot at a store employee who had been held up, according to authorities.The deputy fired at the man eight times, but did not hit him.

A surveillance video caught the robbery in progress about 2 a.m. The store clerk can be seen being robbed at gunpoint by two people at the store on the 1000 block of Havenhurst Drive.

After ripping a drawer full of cash from the register, one of the robbers dumped the money into his accomplice's backpack.

The tandem then ran out the door, and the clerk followed after them.

Deputies were arriving just at that time, and that's when one of the deputies opened fire.

"All I heard was gunfire," said the cashier, who did not want to be identified. "I was traumatized. I didn't know what was going on at that point."

While the deputy thought he was firing on the armed suspect, it was the cashier who had run out to try to point to where the suspects had gone.

"I heard gunshots," said Marco Colantonio, a witness. "It sounded like five or six, and they were loud, crackling gunshots.

"Then there was a massive swarm of sheriff's activity. Sheriff's cars coming up and sheriff's running."

The employee is the brother of the store owner.

Sheriff's officials said the employee matched the description of the suspect and appeared to have a gun pointing at them, and that's why they opened fire.

"When the male did not comply with the deputy's orders, the deputy believed the male would fire upon him and fired rounds at the male," said Benjamin Grubb of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. "The male was not struck and later determined to not be the suspect."

The employee said he doesn't fault the deputy and called it a mistake.

No one was hurt in the incident.

The two suspects, one a man and the other apparently a woman, were seen wearing hoodies. One wore a white hoodie and the other a pink one with designs.

Anyone with information on the robbery is asked to call sheriff's investigators at (310) 855-8850.


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