Family members fought off a man who assaulted them with bear spray in an attempt to rob their jewelry store in El Monte on Saturday afternoon, police and the store owner said.
The chaotic scene occurred around 2:20 p.m. at Joyeria Meza, a family-owned jewelry store at 10909 Main Street.
The owner said her 70-year-old uncle was sitting outside the store when the suspect, armed with a hammer, sprayed bear spray directly into his eyes. The owner requested that her name not be published out of concern for her safety.
The suspect smashed a display case with the hammer before he assaulted the owner’s father, sister, and her two brothers with the bear spray, she said. A customer inside the store who tried to help thwart the suspect also was sprayed.
The owner said her father mistook the red bear spray on her uncle for blood and attacked the suspect.
“He wasn’t thinking about the gold,” she said. “He was trying to defend his family.”
Video footage of the attempted robbery shared by ABC7 shows three male family members hitting and kicking the suspect near the entrance, with one person beating him with a long stick. One man pulls off the suspect’s shirt before he runs out of the store as the men chase him down Main Street.
Jewelry store employees fight back, chase off thief during smash-and-grab robbery in El Monte https://t.co/Rbpm2vqx0R
— ABC7 Eyewitness News (@ABC7) September 3, 2023
No jewelry was stolen. El Monte police said the suspect is still at large, and the attempted robbery is under investigation.
Other employees of jewelry stores held up in smash-and-grab attempts have also fought back.
In May 2022, employees punched, kicked and wielded a chair to fight off thieves armed with hammers during an attempted heist at a jewelry store in the Bella Terra shopping center in Huntington Beach.
Several months later, employees of a jewelry store in downtown Los Angeles fought back against a group of six attempted smash-and-grab robbers. The would-be robbers left empty-handed after a security guard appeared with a gun, according to Fox11.
Last week, three masked men entered a Pasadena jewelry store and pepper-sprayed the owner and an employee before stealing an estimated $500,000 worth of jewelry.
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