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Neighbors Take to Online Sites as Manhunt for Suspect in Santa Monica Robbery Unfolds
By Niki Cervantes
March 2, 2018 -- “I hear helicopters.”
The brief post on a local website in Santa Monica signaled a long night to come after a robbery at a Montana Avenue jewelry store Wednesday sparked a police manhunt.
The search engulfed neighbors, who watched police, tracked the suspect through backyards and otherwise told the tale via social media as it was unfolding.
The male suspect -- who remained at large Thursday -- robbed the “Curated Los Angeles” jewelers at about 5:30 p.m., armed with “a suspicious device.”
Posting on residocracry.org, an online sight that focuses on Santa Monica community issues, and on the Facebook page for Santa Monica Now, another site for discussing local issues, neighbors watched the ensuing manhunt from inside their homes, where police tweets urged them to stay.
They warned each other to stay sheltered inside as helicopters circled above and police, K-9 teams, S.W.A.T. units, a Sheriff Department’s bomb squad and others swarmed their streets.
The online posts about the jewelry store robbery and subsequent manhunt expressed heightened fears, and some disillusionment among the neighbors.
“It feels like our city is under siege,” said one poster to residocracy.
And the next day, with the suspect still at large:
“They never caught him, right? ”one woman posting on Santa Monica Now’s Facebook page asked. (www.facebook.com/groups/SantaMonicaNow/).
Among other posts:
"We were at our house on Georgina between 15 and 16 around 630 PM when we saw the suspect hop the wall into our backyard from our east neighbors, run through our yard, we saw him in the yard and looked at him, when he saw us he then hopped the rear wall to the house on north side (San Vicente side).
“Likewise, they didn’t even ask us for a description or anything. He was no longer wearing his sweatshirt, just grey t shirt, he also was not carrying anything that we could see."
"They found the backpack in their yard and gave it to the officers thinking they might want to search it or use it with the K9s, the police took it and just put it down on the curb in front of the house. Again, they didn’t want to hear anything from us.
“Great to know they gave him hours to hide and make his escape and now he’s still at large...”
Police did not respond by deadline to a request for comment.
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