A man has been arrested and charged in connection with a series of robberies in Southern California and is also suspected in more incidents up north, police said Monday.
The LAPD’s elite Robbery-Homicide Division arrested 31-year-old Eric Watts, of Oakland, last week for several robberies in the Los Angeles area. He was identified using DNA evidence and surveillance video linking him to the crimes, police said.
Watts, who was arrested in Martinez, California, was wanted for a parole violation and had an active warrant out for his arrest since last June.
He was booked into jail and was eventually charged with six counts of robbery for the incidents that occurred in L.A., police said.
“During the course of the investigation, Watts was also identified as the suspect in additional robberies in Northern California. Northern California police agencies are expected to present additional charges in their jurisdiction,” authorities explained in a news release.
Watts was tied to two robberies that occurred on Melrose Avenue and one of those incidents led to a police shooting, officials said.
They released details of L.A.-area incidents dating back to May, but did not specifically indicate what Watts’ role was in each:
In one incident that occurred on May 21, the victim stopped at a gas station on the 5100 block of West Washington Boulevard where he went inside to pay for gas.
He was confronted by two suspects who were armed with handguns and demanded his property, police said. The victim complied and handed over his watch, cellphone and wallet. The suspects then allegedly took more property out of the victim’s car. In total, the estimated property loss was more than $31,000, police said.
A day later, a victim was parked in a shopping center near the 55000 clock of West Pico Boulevard after visiting a nearby business when a white Lexus parked behind him, blocking him in. Two suspects went up to him next to his vehicle, one of them pointed a gun at the victim and demanded his Rolex, police said.
Both suspects allegedly went through the victim’s pockets and took his money and car keys. The victim was able to run away from the suspects and kept his watch, but the estimated property loss was $500, police said.
Then, on May 24, two victims were dining at a restaurant at 8300 West 3rd Street when two suspects entered the business armed with handguns and demanded victims’ jewelry and money, police said.
The suspects allegedly took a necklace and car keys during a struggle with one of the victims, ran away and drove off in a white Lexus.
On July 5, two victims were shopping together when two suspects entered a jewelry store in the 7300 block of Melrose Avenue while armed with handguns. They demanded the victims’ property and took off with a watch, purse and handbag costing more than $70,000, police said. The suspects walked out of the store and drove off in a nearby vehicle.
On July 14, three people were shopping at a clothing store in the 7800 block of Melrose Avenue when two suspects got out of a newer model BMW X5 and went into the store armed with handguns, police said.
They approached one victim and demanded his jewelry.
“A struggle ensued in which the victim’s necklace and shirt was removed from his body, the victim ran further into the store, behind the sales counter and cash register. The struggle continued over the victim’s expensive watch he was wearing,” police detailed.
Eventually, the robbers got away with the victim’s necklace and ring and ran outside while still holding the guns.
During the ordeal, officers were flagged down and a police shooting occurred as the suspects were fleeing, authorities said without elaborating. It is unclear if anyone was shot during the incident, but one of the suspects dropped a gun while running away, which was recovered at the scene.
While Watts is suspected to be involved in numerous robberies, authorities believe he may have been involved in more in both Northern and Southern California that haven’t been reported. They released a photo of Watts in hopes of identifying additional people who may have been victimized by him.
Anyone with information about Watts or any of the incidents he was involved in is asked to call Detectives Emily Delph and Angel Gomez at 213-486-6840.