A man linked to three separate robberies at stores in San Diego’s East County, including a case in which he wielded at hatchet and asked a victim: “Want to get hit with a hatchet?” pleaded not guilty in court on Friday.
Randall Lee, 22, of Lakeside, pleaded not guilty to three counts of robbery, one count of assault with a deadly weapon and a special allegation that he used a dangerous weapon in the robberies.
Lee is being held on $150k bail. His preliminary hearing is scheduled for April 7.
The San Diego County Sheriff’s Department (SDSO) said that the series of robberies began at around 12:40 p.m. on Feb. 28, when the suspect tried to steal a camera from a Best Buy store located at 8401 Fletcher Parkway.
When a security guard confronted the man about a camera that he was attempting to hide, the suspect pulled out a hatchet and asked the guard if he wanted to get hit with the weapon. Deputies said the suspect fled from the store in a brown, four-door Buick.
Less than two weeks later – on March 12 – the suspect struck again, this time twice in one day.
At 12:10 a.m., he stole several items from a Walmart store located at 13487 Camino Canada in unincorporated El Cajon, including two BB gun rifles. As he left the store, the suspect pulled out what was believed to be a CO2-style BB gun from his waistband.
Deputies said the man pointed the gun at a manager and asked him, “Do you want to do this the hard way or the easy way?"
The suspect walked toward the exit and fired the BB gun several times at the manager. He then fled the scene in an older model silver Buick.
At 11 p.m. that same day, the suspect entered a Walmart at 170 Town Center Parkway in Santee. As he tried to leave the store, an assistant manager confronted him.
Deputies said that’s when the suspect pulled a BB gun out of a backpack and fired multiple rounds at the assistant manager. The BBs missed the manager, but struck another employee in the shoulder. The employee was not hurt. The man fled the store in a car described by witnesses as a brown sedan.
In this most recent incident, investigators said the suspect left behind a wallet in a shopping cart. The wallet was stolen, and belonged to a victim of identity theft. Three credit cards belonging to the ID theft victim were later used at three businesses in San Diego, the SDSO said.
On Tuesday, the SDSO released surveillance photos in hopes that someone will recognize the man and help lead investigators to him.
Lee turned himself in Tuesday evening, SDSO said, in connection to the robberies. He was booked into San Diego Central Jail.