Santa Ana Police Fire on Armed Robbery Suspects, Search for Missing Robber

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One of three men involved in a Santa Ana armed robbery early Thursday morning escaped during a high-speed pursuit that ended in an officer-involved shooting in Garden Grove, authorities said.


Santa Ana police fired on a truck, leaving bullet holes, when a pursuit ended in Garden Grove on March 13, 2014. (Credit: KTLA)

The pursuit began about 2 a.m. after a 34-year-old man who had taken several hundred dollars out of a Garden Grove ATM stopped due to car trouble in Santa Ana. There, an Asian man with a gun told him to drive away and follow a nearby black pickup truck, according to Santa Ana Police Department Cpl. Anthony Bertagna.

The two vehicles drove to the 3500 block of Boyer Avenue, a dead-end street in Santa Ana (map), where the victim was robbed by the man with the gun and two other armed men who got out of the truck, Bertagna said. The robbers took the victim’s car keys and fled in the truck.

Responding police saw the truck, which refused to pull over, and the pursuit began, Bertagna said. The victim said three armed Asian men had robbed him, according to police.

The 30-minute chase — which spanned Santa Ana, Fountain Valley, Westminster and Huntington Beach — ended when the truck lost control at West Street and Lampson Avenue in Garden Grove (map), Bertagna said.

There, Santa Ana officers fired when the driver exited the truck, Bertagna said. Two men in the truck were taken into custody, but a third robber was outstanding and was gone by the time the pursuit ended.

“Where in the pursuit through the five different cities did the third suspect get out? We’re trying to find that out. We’re trying to get him identified and get him into custody,” Bertagna said.


Justin Qunnaphonh Phabmixay, 21, of Santa Ana, and transient Michael Tran Nguyen, 29 (Credit: Santa Ana Police Department)

Justin Qunnaphonh Phabmixay, 21, of Santa Ana, and transient Michael Tran Nguyen, 29, were named Thursday evening as the men arrested. They were set to be booked on suspicion of robbery, kidnapping and evading, a police news release stated.

Neither man was injured, nor were any officers, according to the release.

Police found three fully loaded weapons — a shotgun, a handgun and a submachine gun with a banana clip, according to Bertagna. The driver had a backpack with two of the weapons.

Multiple officers fired on the truck, but it wasn’t known how many rounds or the exact number of officers who fired, Bertagna said.

Details related to the chase and shooting were initially murky. Early in the morning, Bertagna told reporters that there was a search for a third robber in the area of the pursuit’s termination.

But Garden Grove police later said there was no search because it was not known where the man got out of the truck.

“The pursuit was quite lengthy and it appears at some point during the pursuit, the third suspect exited the vehicle on foot in an unknown location,” Garden Grove police Lt. Ben Stauffer said in an email.

Bertagna said the “fluid investigation” was continuing.

Anyone with information related to the crime or identity of the outstanding robber was asked to call Orange County Crime Stoppers at 855-847-6227.

KTLA’s Chip Yost contributed to this article.