A suspect, who police dubbed the “Grey Hooded Sweatshirt Bandit”, was charged on June 17 with 28 counts of robbery in connection with a spree of hold-ups that occurred throughout the Hollywood, Wilshire and Olympic areas.
The suspect, Jose Manuel Cuellar, 20, has been in prison since he was arrested in February for a narcotics violation. Cuellar was transported to Los Angeles County Superior Court on June 17 and arraigned on the charges.
The robberies, which took place from last November through February, were investigated by the Los Angeles Police Department’s Robbery-Homicide Division because they occurred over a large portion of the city. Det. Peter Lee said Cuellar would target liquor stores, or small “mom and pop” run markets. He allegedly would wear a hooded sweatshirt with a bandana or ski mask, and would threaten the store clerks at gunpoint. The gunman stole cash, and no one was injured, Lee added.
Investigators would not divulge the exact location of the robberies, but Lee said Cuellar struck at liquor stores in the 7000 and 5000 block of Melrose Avenue, as well as stores in the 7000 block of Beverly Boulevard, the 7500 block of Sunset Boulevard, and at several locations on Santa Monica Boulevard. Police also believe he struck at locations in Glendale and the San Fernando Valley.
Lee declined to give an exact location, but said Cuellar lived in a duplex near the Hollywood (101) Freeway and Hollywood Boulevard, where he was arrested on Feb. 2 for an unrelated narcotics violation. Because he was on parole for a 2008 carjacking conviction, Cuellar was sent back to prison.
Lee said the suspect likely targeted businesses in areas he was familiar with.
When Cuellar was arrested, police found a mask, a BB-gun and some items believed to have been stolen during the robberies. Lee said he also fit the description of the suspect, because he has tattoos on his face, and some of the victims had described the tattoos. Officials took several months to tie Cuellar to all of the hold-ups, which culminated in the charges being filed last Friday. Lee added that Cuellar is a known gang member, and said he had the propensity to become violent.According to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, Cuellar faces more than 40 years in prison if convicted on all charges.
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