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Cal State Fullerton lockdown: 3 suspects identified, classes resume

Traevon Vidaud (left), Damian Banks (center) and Jerome Allen (right) are seen in this undated file photo. The three were arrested on suspicion of committing an armed robbery that set off a chain of events, including a pursuit that ended in Watts and a nearly eight-hour lockdown of the Cal State Fullerton campus, on Wednesday, Dec. 12, 2012.
December 13, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
Classes resumed as scheduled Thursday after a lockdown at California State University, Fullerton, left students and faculty stranded for nearly eight hours while police searched the campus for at least one armed robbery suspect.

The lockdown followed a series of events that started around 3 p.m. Wednesday in Moreno Valley, where police said five suspects, including Damian Banks, Jerome Allen and Traevon Vidaud, shot and robbed a jewelry store clerk. The 21-year-old clerk was struck in the torso area and was taken to Riverside County Regional Medical Center in critical but stable condition.

The suspects then fled Moreno Valley in a Lexus and exited the freeway at Nutwood Avenue in Fullerton, near the CSUF campus. According to a witness, the suspects ditched their car and apparently tried to take some things with them, because items were seen scattered around the vehicle.

Banks and Allen were arrested almost immediately at the scene while two other suspects ran onto the campus. That's when police set up a perimeter around Mihaylo Hall, where students said they saw at least one suspect moving through the halls.

Meanwhile, Vidaud fled Fullerton in a carjacked vehicle and led police on a chase to Watts, where he eventually ditched the car and fled on foot. He ran through a park and right into the waiting arms of police. What he didn't know was that some Los Angeles Police Department officials, including Chief Charlie Beck, were at the location for a toy giveaway. He was taken into custody without incident shortly before 4:30 p.m.

Nearly eight hours later in Fullerton, the campus lockdown was lifted shortly after midnight Thursday. Officials said all campus buildings were clear. There was no sign of the suspect seen at Mihaylo Hall or the second suspect, and both remain outstanding.

Students stranded in their classrooms or dorms during the lockdown used social media to communicate. Students took to Twitter to share pictures of the scene. Some showed students hunkered down in classrooms, watching Eyewitness News on their computers for updates. Others posted photos of doors barricaded with desks and chairs.

"A lot of people were getting really uncomfortable, especially since we had to make a bathroom inside the class," said student Maseah Rasta.

While many questioned the length of time of the lockdown, university police stood by their decision Thursday.

"We wanted to be confident that the suspect was no longer on campus, not posing a threat to our campus community or to err on the side of caution," said one campus police officer.

Someone claiming to be the suspect in tweets during the manhunt recanted their story Thursday. Authorities are investigating the tweets, and Riverside County Sheriff's said they are trying to determine whether any crime was committed. A number of agencies are also working together to find out if the person was related to the incident.

Meantime, university police are assessing their handling of the situation.

"At this time, we're really just trying to evaluate everything, gather all the data, and really analyze it," said the campus officer.


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