By Darrell Todd Maurina
A string of armed robberies in Clovis may be over, police said on Monday.
Robbers hit two more Clovis businesses at gunpoint over the weekend, but Police Chief Bill Carey said his department is questioning two suspects; he thinks the string of robberies — seven since June 14 — is over.
“We’ve got two suspects who we know are involved and we are interviewing them now,” Carey said Monday afternoon. “We will be getting out a press release in the morning with all the information we can release.”
Although two people are being questioned, Carey said the investigation may not be over and he does not want to compromise the case by releasing the names of the suspects. He also declined to discuss circumstances surrounding the suspects’ detainment.
According to police reports, two armed robbers — their descriptions similar to those involved in previous robberies — hit the Allsup’s at 2121 West 21st Street shortly after midnight on Saturday morning. Two armed robbers also hit the Allsup’s at 1020 Mitchell about 2:45 a.m. Sunday morning. In both cases, two Hispanic males entered the store with bandanas covering their faces, brandished what appeared to be a handgun, demanded cash, and fled the store on foot.
Sunday’s armed robbery was somewhat different from the previous six cases in that suspects attacked a clerk and took merchandise in addition to cash, a police report said.
According to the report, the robbers began hitting the Allsup’s clerk immediately after he came out of the back of the store, knocking him to the ground and ripping away his personal panic button device.
The report said the clerk declined medical assistance for facial pain.
In addition to cash, Sunday’s robbers stole an unknown quantity of cigarettes and cigarette lighters, dropping one lighter on the store countertop and another in the breezeway.
The robbers didn’t succeed in getting much cash in either robbery. The Sunday robbery netted less than $25 and the Saturday robbery netted $22, according to police reports. A previous armed robbery at the North Plains Cinema gained up to $625, though in most incidents the robbers have gained less than $50, reports said.
City Manager Ray Mondragon, a former Clovis police chief, said Carey briefed him on the cases and he was glad to see suspects in questioning.
“I never did doubt that the Clovis Police Department would put these robberies to an end,” Mondragon said. “I have total confidence in the quality of the investigators and police officers we have.”
Mondragon said the two suspects have not yet been officially linked to a pair of North Plains Cinema robberies but are being held in connection with the others.
“We suspect that this could be a tie-in to the theater robberies but I haven’t gotten a confirmation yet,” Mondragon said. “I just hope we’ll be able to tie these people to other robberies.”
Carey declined to give specific numbers, but said additional officers had been assigned to work patrol duty due to the string of armed robberies.
Carey said Sunday’s armed robbery call was received by dispatchers at 2:49 a.m., officers were dispatched at 2:50 a.m., and they arrived at the store at 2:53 a.m.