Armed robber caught at China One


SOLEDAD — An armed robbery led to an attempted carjacking and arrest at the China One Restaurant in Soledad on Sept. 12.

At about 6:05 p.m. the armed robber, Antonio Vargas Jr., 28, walked into the Metro PCS store and wandered around inside for several minutes while waiting for other customers to leave the store. When it was just him and the clerk, the suspect approached the counter while concealing his hand inside a blue bag, raised it to his shoulder level and then demanded that the clerk give him all the money from the till.

The victim placed the cash inside the bag, and the suspect immediately fled the scene.

Before the robbery took place, the clerk thought the suspect was acting suspicious and texted the on-duty mall security guard, asking him to respond to the location. The security guard walked up to the store just as the suspect exited the store.

The suspect fled on foot through the parking lot and attempted to get into an occupied vehicle a short distance away. The driver of the parked vehicle immediately locked the front door and the suspect moved to the rear driver's side door where a 2-year old was seated in a car seat. The suspect reached his arm through the open window to try to unlock the door when the driver reached back locked the door and then rolled up the window on the suspect's arm. The suspect managed to pull his arm free and immediately fled through the parking lot of the shopping center.

The security guard chased the suspect to the rear of the China One Restaurant, where the suspect entered and slammed shut the door behind him.

Unable to enter the rear door, the security guard immediately ran back to the front of the restaurant, where he observed the suspect trip and fall exiting the kitchen area toward the front door. With the aid of the owners' two teenage sons, the security guard immediately pinned the suspect to the ground and held him in place until the police arrived.

Soledad police officers talked with witnesses, who positively identified Vargas as the perpetrator of the armed robbery and attempted carjacking. In addition, a bag containing over $780 in cash and credit card receipts was found in the suspect's possession and recovered at the site of his arrest.

Vargas was arrested and booked into the Monterey County Jail for armed robbery, attempted carjacking and possession of drug paraphernalia.