Suspect caught on camera assaulting Brea store employee, stealing phones

BREA, Calif. (KABC) -- A customer who apparently really needed his phone back from a repair shop was caught on camera assaulting a store employee and stealing several phones before he was pepper-sprayed as he fled out the door.

Police are working to track down the suspect, now wanted on an arrest warrant.

The incident began around 4:30 p.m. Monday.

Security video obtained exclusively by Eyewitness News shows a male customer walking into the store in Brea.

Workers said he had returned for his repaired smart phone - but the new part had not yet arrived.

"He basically flipped out..he needed his phone right away," said employee Levi Barela.

Barela was on the receiving end of what started as a verbal assault.

It would soon turn physical.

"I need a (expletive) phone," the suspect is heard saying in the security video.

Barela tells him "there is nothing I can do until tomorrow."

The suspect replies: "That's not going to work. I've been trying to not to get to this place with you. I've been trying to be patient."

His patience must have run out.

"He started getting hostile, telling me no one was going to leave the store until he gets his phone," recalled Barela.

"I don't think you understand. I'm not (expletive) leaving. Nobody's going home tonight," the suspect is heard yelling at Barela. "I don't think you (expletive) get it."

Barela told him he has no loaner phones to give him. He even offered him a refund, but after several minutes it turned violent.

The video shows the suspect slamming Barela into a work table his head appearing to snap over the top of the divider.

Barela said the suspect then grabbed his own phone, Barela's phone and possibly other customer phones from a work bench in the back of the store.

Barela picked up pepper spray and aimed it at the suspect as the man ran off and jumped the counter.

The video shows a female customer who was entering the store getting hit in the arm as the suspect flings open the door on his way out.

Barela said he suffered whiplash and a concussion. He also underwent an MRI.

He said "there is brain swelling but no bleeding."

"We're worried he could come back," said Daniel Laue, CEO of

Laue says they tracked Barela's phone providing the suspect's location information and security video to police.

"We've had everybody in the shopping center watching for this guy," Laue said.

Brea police have not released the suspect's name but said they have obtained a warrant for his arrest for robbery.

Anyone with information is asked to call OC Crime Stoppers at (855)TIP-OCCS. Tips can be provided anonymously.
Copyright © 2020 KABC-TV. All Rights Reserved.