Suspect in Jewelry Store Hatchet Attack Arrested

Travis Kelley, 24, is accused of assaulting the 75-year-old owner of Hamlin’s Jewelry store in El Cajon

Police have arrested a man accused of attacking a jewelry store owner with hatchet after his credit card was declined during a transaction at the shop.

Travis Kelley, 24, was arrested Thursday in Ocean Beach in connection with the violent assault. He now faces several charges, including attempted homicide, armed robbery and elder abuse.

According to police, on Wednesday at around 3:30 p.m., Kelley allegedly attacked the owner of Hamlin’s Jewelry in El Cajon, striking him multiple times on the head with a hatchet.

Investigators said Kelley entered the business on Fletcher Parkway on a ruse to buy merchandise. Minutes later, things turned violent.

Store owner Carl Hamlin, 75, told police that a credit card transaction had been taking place between him and the suspect. When Kelley’s credit card was declined, Hamlin told police the man became angry and violent.

The victim said Kelley pulled out a hatchet that had a hammer head on one of the ends. He then allegedly struck the victim numerous times on the head with the hammer end of the hatchet.

After the blows, Hamlin fell behind the counter. Police said the victim then pulled out a small caliber handgun and pointed it at the suspect in self-defense. At that point, police said the pair began fighting again as Kelley tried to grab the victim’s gun.

Police said the suspect was able to wrestle the gun away from the store owner. The suspect then fled from the store on foot, with the victim’s gun, before officers could arrive.

He was last seen getting into a silver Toyota 4-Runner, driving west on Fletcher Parkway. Police said the car may have been driven by an accomplice. Nothing else was stolen in the incident.

The jewelry store owner suffered multiple head injuries in the assault. He was transported to a local hospital for treatment. On Thursday, police confirmed the victim’s injuries were “significant and more severe” than initially reported by authorities.

By Friday, Hamlin had been released from the hospital and was recovering at home.

NBC 7 spoke to Hamlin by phone Friday night. He said he was recovering from severe injuries and didn't want to go into detail about the attack at this time. He did say the hatchet-wielding suspect was a "complete stranger."

Hamlin also added that he's very grateful to police for catching the alleged suspect.

Following Wednesday's assault, police released detailed descriptions of both the suspect and the getaway car, including a partial license plate number.

Clear, close-up images of the suspect (see above) captured on surveillance tape at the jewelry store were also publicly released by police in an effort to track down the perpetrator.

El Cajon police said the San Diego Regional Fugitive Task Force assisted in locating Kelley in connection with the crime.

Police were also able to track down the alleged accomplice in the crime, Ali Armeen Toombs, 21.

Toombs was pulled over in the Toyota 4-Runner, arrested and charged with conspiracy to commit a felony and robbery, police said.

On Friday night, police confirmed there were no outstanding suspects in this case but said the investigation is ongoing. Anyone with information should contact the El Cajon Police Department at (619) 579-3311.

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