Justin Qunnaphonh Phabmixay, Michael Tran Nguyen Held in Robbery/Carjacking/Chase
See the update at the end of this post identifying the two men in the pick-up truck after a police chase that started in Santa Ana and ended with an officer-involved shooting in Garden Grove.
ORIGINAL POST, MARCH 13, 12:33 P.M.: The Garden Grove Police Department asked the local media this afternoon to help ease the fears of residents, and in particular parents of young students, by informing that there is not a search for a robbery suspect in the area of West Street and Lampson Avenue.
A Santa Ana police chase and officer-involved shooting did take place in that area early today, when some news outlets reported the driver of the pursued pick-up truck hopped out and got away. That's false, according to Lt. Ben Stauffer, the Garden Grove police spokesman.
Actually, Stauffer was relaying information he received from Cpl. Anthony Bertagna, the Santa Ana police spokesman, who informed that while three robbery suspects were originally being sought, investigators now believe that during the long chase one of them exited the truck some time before it ended in gunfire at West and Lampson.
After media reports were aired and posted that the third guy got away at West and Lampson, Garden Grove police began fielding inquiries from concerned residents fearing for their safety or the safety of children in nearby schools, Stauffer explained.
At least that's not as bad as a few early reports that had a suspect being shot to death by cops.
Someone was held up at gunpoint in Santa Ana around 2 a.m. and escaped with a small amount of cash, according to Bertagna, who added officers from his agency caught sight of the suspect vehicle a short time later and gave chase. The pursuit sped through that city as well as Westminster, Fountain Valley and Huntington Beach before the driver lost control of the pickup and crashed near West and Lampson in Garden Grove, Bertagna said.
Gunfire was exchanged around 2:30 a.m. before two people in the truck were taken into custody and a handgun, a rifle or shotgun and another high-capacity weapon were recovered, Bertagna said. Neither the suspects or officers were hurt.
UPDATE, MARCH 14, 11:53 A.M.: Santa Ana Police have identified the men arrested after a high-speed chase and officer-involved shooting as parolee Justin Qunnaphonh Phabmixay, 21, of Santa Ana, and 29-year-old transient Michael Tran Nguyen.
All photos courtesy of Santa Ana Police Department Justin Qunnaphonh Phabmixay
They were being held in Santa Ana's jail on suspicion of robbery, kidnapping, evading and gang enhancements, according to Cpl. Anthony Bertagna.
Michael Tran Nguyen
The police department spokesman filled in more details about what led to the pair's arrest:
* After withdrawing several hundred dollars from an ATM in Garden Grove around 1:45 a.m. Thursday, a 34-year-old man pulled his vehicle over at Harbor Boulevard and Hazard Avenue due to mechanical problems.
* An Asian male forced his way into the car at gunpoint and ordered the driver to follow a black Toyota pickup to the 3400 block of Boyer Avenue, where two other armed Asian males emerged and stole the driver's money.
* After the trio took the driver's keys and fled in the black pickup, he reported the robbery. Responding, uniformed officers spotted a black truck in the same area and gave chase through five different cities over the next half hour.
* It is believed one male jumped out some time before the truck driver crashed into a curb at Lampson Avenue and West Street in Garden Grove.
* The assault weapon that was recovered had an extended magazine.
* Tips can be left about the male who got away, even anonymous ones, at Orange County Crime Stoppers (dial 1.855.TIP.OCCS).