Seven suspects linked to more than 20 robberies were taken into custody Friday during a SWAT standoff in the City Heights neighborhood, according to the San Diego Police Department.
An investigation into a string of robberies led San Diego police to an apartment on the 3600 block of University Avenue at about 11 a.m. where detectives initially took five people into custody.
The remaining suspects refused to come out of the apartment and instead forced their way into a next-door neighbor's home with a woman and a 2-year-old child inside.
Within a few hours, both SWAT and the Emergency Negotiation Team were called in to manage the situation, police said.
By 2:30 p.m., negotiators had contacted one suspect inside and were trying to negotiate with them to surrender. A witness told NBC 7 they heard officers telling the suspect "We know you have the merchandise."
SWAT had established a perimeter and evacuated some neighboring apartment units to keep those residents safe, SDPD said. Snipers were seen on nearby rooftops.
Then at around 3:30 p.m., three men were seen exiting the second-story unit with their hands in the air. Police said they believed at least one more person was still inside the apartment.
At one point flashbangs were used to try and coax people out of hiding. It took several more hours for police to convince the remaining suspect to surrender.
.@sandiegopd SWAT is responding to 3600 University to assist with safely taking suspects into custody. Please avoid the following area: University from 36th to 38th Street and Cherokee from between Wightman and Polk. Use caution if you must drive in the area.— San Diego Police Department (@SanDiegoPD) September 20, 2019
A handgun was found inside the apartment that police said was linked to at least two of the previous robberies.
Police arrested Christopher Butler, 21; Thunderhawk Foster, 20; Byron Hanes, 19; Daiquiri Nelson, 24; Jaelin Davis, 19; Jeremiah Henry, 23; and Alexander Horton, 22.
Butler, Foster, Davis, Henry, and Horton were charged on numerous counts of robbery, delaying and resisting an officer in the performance of duties, and false imprisonment. Haynes and Nelson were booked for delaying and resisting an officer in the performance of duties and false imprisonment.
Davis was also charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm.
Police confirmed three people linked to the string of robberies had already been arrested before Friday's incident: Sebastian Baez, 19; Ebon Johnson, 20; and an underage girl who would not be identified because she was a juvenile.
The suspects are connected to more than 20 pedestrian robberies, some armed, around the county including one Thursday evening near the campus of San Diego State University.
Police say the suspects approached pedestrians and took cell phones and necklaces. The series of robberies have been going on for a month-and-a-half, SDPD said.
Anyone with information is requested to contact the Crime Stopper’s anonymous tip line at (888) 580-8477.
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