Police have identified the man they believe went into a Santa Monica jewelry store, threatened an employee and demanded merchandise, forcing evacuations in the surrounding neighborhood.
Robert Art Abalov, 32, should be considered dangerous, according to the Santa Monica Police Department.
While authorities haven’t said exactly how he was linked to the incident, police have released several surveillance images from Wednesday, when they believe he entered Curated Los Angeles at 1603 Montana Ave. and told an employee he had an explosive device.
The man in the incident was given merchandise, but dropped it before making it out of the store, police said. Detectives were later seen combing the retail location for evidence.
A large residential area north of Montana Avenue was closed to through traffic and some residents were forced to evacuate their homes as police searched the area for about five hours in hopes of making an arrest.
One surveillance video released Thursday allegedly shows Abalov after he fled the store in a vehicle. A black SUV is seen speeding down 15th Street before it collides with a car driving in front of it while simultaneously hitting a parked car, spinning the moving vehicle into another sedan parked along the road.
The SUV becomes disabled, and a man is seen running up and down the street before going back to the car and dropping something by the driver’s side, then walking away.
Police said they found a “suspicious device” by the driver’s side of the suspect’s car, and an L.A. County Sheriff’s Department bomb squad was called in to detonate it. But further analysis determined it was not an explosive device, sheriff’s officials said.
One neighborhood resident, Astineh Arakelin, said her car was among several damaged in the incident.
“It was obviously upsetting because we had to evacuate our house,” she told KTLA. “We’re just hoping that the person is going to be caught because it’s a little scary being home right now.”
Police say Abalov lives in the Los Angeles area but they are unsure of his current whereabouts. He was described as a white man measuring 5 feet 7 inches tall and weighing 145 pounds with short, brown hair and brown eyes.
Anyone who comes in contact with him is advised to call 911 or contact the Santa Monica Police Department at 310-458-8491.