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Barricaded Robbery Suspect at NE Fresno Save Mart Eludes Capture



photo of crime scene tape and lights at night
A robbery suspect remained barricaded inside the Save Mart store at First Street and Nees Avenue on Friday morning. (Shutterstock)
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Fresno Police Chief Paco Balderrama said that with officers and sheriff’s deputies unable to find a robbery suspect who had barricaded himself in a Save Mart supermarket in northeast Fresno, his department was returning control of the store to its managers.

The chief’s announcement at about 4 p.m. Friday afternoon followed a 21-hour effort to catch the suspect, which started with Fresno County Sheriff’s deputies trying to arrest him Thursday evening near the Macy’s in River Park.

Because of the barricade situation, Clovis Unified ended up canceling classes for the day at nearby Kastner Intermediate School after initially delaying the morning start time.

“While we have been assured that the incident is contained to the commercial buildings adjacent to our school, the decision to cancel school allows us to create a safe perimeter, reduce walking and vehicular traffic, and protect our students from any peripheral impact from this evolving incident,” the district said in a news release.

Fresno PD Searches Store With SWAT, K-9s

Balderrama said late Friday morning that SWAT officers with K9s searched the store without finding the suspect, ABC30 reported.

Balderrama also said that the suspect may have gotten up on the building’s roof and into a neighboring business.

“It’s an inconvenience for our community, and I apologize, but the first concern is public safety,” Balderrama said.

However, door-to-door searches of neighboring businesses proved fruitless.

How the Standoff Started

The incident began when an off-duty deputy spotted three robbery suspects in the parking lot near Macy’s in River Park and called for help to arrest them.

Two of the suspects — a man and a woman — ran into the Macy’s when they saw deputies approaching. They were caught and arrested.

Suspect Rams Cars, Flees to Save Mart

But the third suspect got into a car and escaped despite being shot at by a deputy and crashing into several vehicles.

Fresno County sheriff’s spokesman Tony Botti said late Thursday night it wasn’t known if the suspect was struck by a deputy’s bullets.

The fleeing suspect then holed up at the Save Mart. After the store was evacuated Thursday night, the stand-off between the man and law enforcement began.

Bill McEwen is news director and columnist for GV Wire. He joined GV Wire in August 2017 after 37 years at The Fresno Bee. With The Bee, he served as Opinion Editor, City Hall reporter, Metro columnist, sports columnist and sports editor through the years. His work has been frequently honored by the California Newspapers Publishers Association, including authoring first-place editorials in 2015 and 2016. Bill and his wife, Karen, are proud parents of two adult sons, and they have two grandsons. You can contact Bill at 559-492-4031 or at Send an Email

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