San Diego

2 Women Arrested in Discount Store Robbery Thwarted by Manager, Caught on Video

Irene Lee, 22, and Ariel Burrus, 25, are accused in an armed robbery on Dec. 13 at a Savers 99 Cents Store

Two women have been arrested for a robbery at a discount store in San Diego in which they put a gun to a manager’s head, prompting a risky scuffle caught on security cameras.

The San Diego Police Department (SDPD) told NBC 7 the armed suspects – Irene Lee, 22, and Ariel Burrus, 25 – were taken into custody just before midnight Wednesday at a home on Roseview Place.

The women are accused in a robbery at a Savers 99 Cents Store on University Avenue on Dec. 13. The duo walked into the store and immediately the store manager, who has worked there for 15 years, recognized them. He said they had robbed his store before and he was tired of it. This time, they wouldn’t get away with it.

The store manager, who spoke exclusively with NBC 7 earlier this month, said he took a stance at the front of the store and confronted the suspects, demanding they open some bags they were carrying so he could what item they had shoplifted.

The situation escalated and Burrus pulled out a gun — a fully-loaded 22-caliber revolver and put it squarely to the back of the worker’s head.

"The gun was cocked and ready to fire easily, I mean hair trigger," SDPD Robbery Detective Dewayne Glazewski explained.

In the surveillance video, the manager appeared enraged, reaching for the weapon as Burrus started to return it to her waistband. The two grappled on the floor for a few seconds before he wrenched the gun away from her.

The manager's decision to disarm Burrus wasn't exactly based on a complete understanding of the risk, Glazewski told NBC 7.

"He thought it was a fake gun so he went after the woman and took the gun away," he said.

The weapon didn't fire but Burrus' head was bloodied from the scuffle on the floor.

Lee had left. Burrus stuck around long enough to drink water.

Police said she threatened to come back and kill the manager if he didn't return her weapon. Eventually, at a leisurely pace, she walked away from the store before police came.

Burrus and Lee were booked into the Las Colinas Detention and Reentry Facility (LCDRF), each on one count of robbery. Lee’s booking record shows two additional charges, a probation violation, and child cruelty.

The suspects are scheduled to appear in court Friday.

NBC 7 spoke with the store manager again Thursday. He did not want to be named but did tell NBC 7 that when he saw Burrus' gun during the robbery, he at first thought nothing would happen to him, so he grabbed for the weapon out of instinct.

As a devout Catholic, he believes God saved his life that day. He felt only God determined the outcome: he could've died or the suspect could've died. How things turned out, he said, was "an act of God."

The manager said he feels sorry for the suspects because they are likely down on their luck, and does not wish them any ill will.

This is the second time he has survived a near-death experience. At the age of 15, he was hit by a car in an accident that left him in a coma for two months.

"I got better and I keep on fighting for my life," he added.
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