The sole employee present in a jewelry store on the main level of the Millennium Biltmore Hotel in downtown Los Angeles was assaulted by thieves who robbed the shop on Friday.
Three men entered Arka Fine Jewelry Store inside the landmark hotel at 500 S. Olive St. around 2:45 p.m. and used a hammer to break into display cases, L.A. Police Officer Drake Madison said.
The shop specializes in diamonds and engagement rings.
The victim, Vatche Klahejian, told KTLA the first man to walk inside doused him and the entire store in pepper spray. Another was armed with a sledgehammer, and all three wore surgical masks to conceal their faces, Klahejian said.
"I was almost blind with the spray, so I start tackling one of the guys, who had the sledgehammer," Klahejian said. The armed man than began hitting Klahejian with the weapon.
"All of a sudden, blood starts pooling everywhere," the victim said. "That's when they got panicked and ran away."
Klahejian had to have his forehead stitched up and said he was shaken up, but was recovering at home Friday night.
He's worked in the industry 27 years and has never experienced such violence, he said.
Investigators said the robbers escaped in a silver Lexus driven by a black woman in her 30s. The thieves, who were still at large Friday night, are described as three black men in their late 20s.
Klahejian indicated that investigators may have some leads. He was told they found a cellphone that one of the criminals apparently dropped, and that a security guard was able to get the Lexus' license plate number.