Phoenix man sentenced to 26 years after guilty plea in SoCal robbery spree

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Tuesday, January 23, 2024
Armed robbery suspect accidently shot himself at end of chase in SoCal
A Phoenix man has been charged with robbing 10 stores in Southern California and Arizona before accidentally shooting himself after a high-speed police chase that ended in Rancho Cucamonga.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- A Phoenix man has been sentenced to 26 years in federal prison for an Inland Empire crime spree and high-speed police chase that ended with him accidentally shooting himself in the head.

Samuel Sven Smith, now 28, was described as a "vicious career criminal" who committed nine armed robberies with a handgun in Southern California during the summer of 2022.

Authorities caught up with him after the robbery of a PetSmart store in Rancho Cucamonga on Aug. 20. As officers approached outside the store, he opened fire at them and then took off in his car at high speeds, according to a statement from the U.S. Department of Justice. He continued to shoot at them during the chase, prosecutors said.

The chase finally ended after about 20 minutes when officers rammed into his car in Pomona.

The video in the player above is from a previous report on this incident.

They then found him inside the vehicle with a gunshot wound under his chin. As deputies worked to save his life, he told them he accidentally shot himself when they rammed his vehicle.

The sentencing comes after Smith agreed last year to guilty pleas on some of the charges, including two counts of interference with commerce by robbery and two counts of brandishing and discharging a firearm during a crime of violence.

The other businesses that he admitted to robbing included a Big Lots store in Riverside and PetSmart stores in Signal Hill, Orange, San Bernardino, Fontana, Pico Rivera, Redlands, Phoenix and Rancho Cucamonga.

A special task force on violent robberies that includes the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, as well as multiple police agencies in Orange and San Bernardino counties investigated the crime spree.

"This is the type of vicious career criminal that ATF's task force in Orange County targets daily," said Christopher Bombardiere, the ATF's special agent in charge for Los Angeles. "We work with our law enforcement partners to put these offenders in prison to stop their terrorizing of our communities. I want to thank all the men and women on the task force who risk their lives daily."