SAN DIEGO -- Two men who allegedly robbed a cellphone shop in Pacific Beach Tuesday were arrested a short time later, providing a possible break in a spate of recent holdups at the same company's stores in various San Diego-area communities.
The latest armed robbery at a local Metro PCS outlet occurred in the 900 block of Grand Avenue about 2 p.m., according to San Diego police.
Detectives had the suspects under surveillance at the time of the crime and arrested one of them, 30-year-old Justin Wayne Caldwell, immediately afterward as he sat in a parked car outside the business, Capt. Brian Ahearn told reporters.
The other ran off when officers approached, dropping what appeared to be a bank bag and a sack containing cellphones outside a residential garage on nearby Oliver Avenue. He then ditched a handgun along with sunglasses and a sweat shirt he had been wearing before continuing to flee.
The patrol personnel gave chase and took the suspect into custody nearby. He provided an ID bearing the name Geraldo Jesus Rivera and an age of 29, though he later claimed that his true name is Carlo Adolfo Soto and that he is 39 years old.
"Investigators are in the process of verifying (his) true identity," Ahearn said.
The pistol the fleeing man had tossed away during the foot chase turned out to be an airsoft pellet gun, Ahearn said.
It was not immediately clear if the arrests would put an end to the monthlong spree of heists at San Diego-area Metro PCS stores, though this afternoon's robbery had "a lot of similarities" with the previous ones, according to Ahearn.
Since late last month, one to three armed thieves have robbed the wireless-services company's stores in various parts of the county, alternately threatening clerks with pistols, a stun gun and a machete while stealing cash and mobile phones, according to investigators.
During several of the holdups, both bandits entered the targeted business, while just one confronted the victims during others.
The robberies occurred on Jamacha Road in Spring Valley on Jan. 25; on El Cajon Boulevard in Kensington on Jan. 27; on Adams Avenue in Normal Heights on Jan. 30; on Coronado Avenue in Egger Highlands on Feb. 1; on Poway Road in Poway on Feb. 6; on Clairemont Mesa Boulevard in Clairemont on Feb. 7; on El Cajon Boulevard in the College area on Feb. 8; on San Marcos Boulevard in San Marcos on Feb. 10; and on Mission Village Drive in Serra Mesa on Feb. 14.
Surveillance cameras captured images of the bandits, who wore dark- colored clothing and sunglasses during the crimes, and had bandanas or the cowls of hooded jackets covering their faces while committing several others.
Police and FBI agents have had various Metro PCS stores in San Diego under surveillance at various times in recent weeks, Ahearn said.
Investigators believe more suspects in the case may be outstanding, Ahearn said.