Wednesday, September 3, 2008

7-Eleven employee, patrons fight off robber


Police arrested a local man on Friday after he attempted to rob a convenience store and pulled a knife when employees and patrons fought back.

Officers arrived at the 7-Eleven at 331 W. Montecito St. after reports of a subject with a knife being detained by store employees, according to police documents. After authorities handcuffed the suspect, they spoke with witnesses and reviewed video surveillance.
The investigation revealed that 21-year-old Steven Raul Cuellar, a Santa Barbara resident, had entered the store at approximately 2:30 a.m. and headed straight to the alcohol cases, according to police reports.
Due to liquor laws that prevent the sale of alcohol between 2 and 6 a.m., the cases containing beer were locked. Police determined the suspect had reached through an open soda case and grabbed alcohol, according to reports.
When he approached the clerk with a single bottle of beer, the employee asked for his identification and demanded he return the other beer he had taken, reports show. Cuellar reportedly denied having any other alcohol, but after being confronted repeatedly, he reached into his pants, pulled out a beer bottle and threw it, according to police documents.
After the clerk demanded he pay for the broken bottle, the suspect refused and attempted to leave. A scuffle ensued, according to reports, and a patron stepped in along with the clerk in an attempt to stop Cuellar from leaving the store.
The suspect then allegedly pulled a closed knife, reports show. The clerk snatched the weapon away as the patron continued to hold onto the suspect. As they tried to calm the would-be robber, he continued to struggle and eventually broke away, according to police reports.
The suspect subsequently hit an uninvolved taxi driver in the arm, who then called authorities. Police arrived and took Cuellar into custody for attempted robbery, petty theft and battery, booking him in lieu of $50,000 bail.

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