2 Arrested in Robberies Using Fake Gun

Brian Coats, 22, and Reynisha Bransford, 23, are accused of using a replica revolver to rob victims in La Mesa and Fashion Valley

A license plate number led police to two suspects accused of robbing victims in parking lots Friday night while armed with a fake gun, officials confirmed.

Brian Coats, 22, and Reynisha Bransford, 23, were arrested at Friars and Frazee roads after they allegedly robbed two victims within a matter of hours Friday night.

Police said that at around 11 p.m., Coats – armed with what appeared to be a handgun – robbed a woman in the parking lot of a Vons grocery store located at 5630 Lake Murray Blvd. in La Mesa.

He showed the woman his weapon before stealing her purse, The victim told police the robber then fled to a nearby white SUV driven away by a woman.

The victim was able to see the license plate number on the SUV and immediately reported the robbery and number to the La Mesa Police Department. She also described the suspects.

Just a few hours before that robbery, San Diego police investigated a similar incident at Fashion Valley. In that case, the robbery victims also obtained the suspects’ license number and reported it to police.

After the second robbery, La Mesa police searched the area by ground while the SDPD airship assisted from above. An officer spotted the suspects’ SUV traveling westbound on Interstate 8 near the Interstate 15 interchange. Shortly thereafter, the suspects were pulled over and arrested.

Police recovered the weapon used during the robberies, which turned out to be a replica revolver, as well as the property stolen from the victims in both cases, the La Mesa Police Department said.

Both Coats and Bransford were charged with two counts of robbery and conspiracy. Coats was booked into San Diego County Jail and is scheduled to appear in court Wednesday. Bransford was booked into Las Colinas Detention and Re-entry Facility with her court dates set for Tuesday and Wednesday.

No one was injured in the robberies. The investigation is ongoing, police said, and anyone with information on either case should contact San Diego Crime Stoppers at (888) 580-TIPS.

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