PASADENA, Calif. (KABC) -- A Pasadena jewelry store owner was pepper-sprayed as robbers made off with an estimated half-million dollars in merchandise in a matter of seconds.
Owner Samuel Babikian says he was helping a customer leave the store when he was attacked by robbers wearing ski masks.
Hours later, his eyes were still burning.
"It was so fast, so quick," he said. "I didn't even see anybody."
He estimates some $500,000 in jewels were gone in seconds.
It happened Tuesday afternoon at the Jewels on Lake store.
Valerie Hoffman was the customer Babikian was helping. She managed to dodge the spray to see at least five bandits wearing ski masks.
Adding more salt to the wound, the robbery happened on Babikian's birthday.
Investigators have interviewed witnesses and are reviewing cameras in the area.
"I've been here 30 years. I don't remember anything like this in that caliber," said Pasadena police Lt. Monica Cuellar.