The hunt continues today for a would-be robber whose two partners in crime were shot to death amid a botched holdup at in San Juan Capistrano.
The names of the two dead men were being withheld, but might be released today, sheriff's Lt. Steve Doan said.
The incident began around 11:15 a.m. Friday when three men were buzzed into the jewelry store at 33955 Doheny Park Road and attempted to rob it, according to Doan. At some point, a gunfight erupted and a store employee shot and killed two male suspects who had handguns, Doan said. The shots were fired during a 911 call from the store, he said.
A third suspect fled on foot, and a manhunt of nearby stores was quickly launched with four K-9 dogs, a SWAT team and numerous deputies.
The search came up empty and, around 4 p.m., deputies started taking down police tape and letting shoppers and other store employees return.
Mistaken Arrest and Massive Manhunt
When the first patrol car arrived, a deputy carrying a shotgun dashed into the jewelry shop through a back door, said Chris Kirby, who works at the AAMCO Transmission center across the street.
After more deputies arrived, they brought out three jewelry store employees, one of them in handcuffs. The handcuffed employee was released after his co-workers explained what happened, Kirby said.
Meanwhile, employees and shoppers from a nearby Costco, Staples and other businesses were evacuated and deputies began systematically searching those buildings to see if the suspect was inside.
Nearby streets were shut down and a helicopter buzzed overhead as a crowd of spectators gathered and coyotes howled in the hills at all the sirens.
Deputies seized a silver Toyota they believe the suspects drove to the jewelry store, and authorities interviewed Monaco employees and watched surveillance camera tape, Doan said.
This wasn't Monaco's first brush with criminals. On July 4, 2009, someone broke into the store through the roof, escaping with $6 million in merchandise, according to KTLA. It was believed to be the largest burglary in Orange County history at the time.
Authorities are looking into the possibility that Friday's heist might be connected to earlier this year, Doan said. Those robberies involved two male suspects.
As law enforcement descended on the scene Friday, one neighbor, Luci Trette, who lives in a nearby mobile-home park, said she initially thought all the commotion was because of Costco's grand opening for its new gas station in the same shopping center.
"I thought, wow, they're going all out for Costco," she said.
On Saturday morning, Monaco employees were busy cleaning up the mess and said the store would reopen Monday.