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Oakland man arrested in string of armed robberies in Los Angeles

LAPD arrests Oakland man for string of armed robberies in Los Angeles
LAPD arrests Oakland man for string of armed robberies in Los Angeles 02:17

An Oakland man has been arrested in connection with a string of armed robberies across Los Angeles, and investigators believe he is responsible for others in Northern California and beyond.

Eric Watts, 31, was arrested last Wednesday in the city of Martinez, in the Bay Area, by LAPD detectives and U.S. Marshals. He has since been brought back to Los Angeles and charged by the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office with six counts of felony robberies.

(credit: LAPD)

LAPD officials say DNA, surveillance video and other evidence linked Watts to the Los Angeles crime spree, which included an officer-involved shooting at a business on Melrose Avenue. Watts has also been identified as a suspect in several robberies in Northern California, and those police agencies are expected to also file charges against him in their respective jurisdictions, according to the LAPD.

The crime spree started with robbing a driver who stopped at a gas station on May 21. Two armed men confronted the driver in the gas station market, so he handed over his watch, cell phone, and wallet. The armed men also went to the driver's vehicle and took items, getting away with property with an estimated value of more than $31,000. The next afternoon, a man parked in a Pico Boulevard parking lot got boxed in by a white Lexus, police said. Two men with guns held him up for his Rolex, money, and car keys, but police say the man was able to run away and keep his watch.

The LAPD released surveillance video of a May 24 robbery, in which the two suspects entered a restaurant on West 3rd Street as if they were going to sit down and eat, but instead pulled out guns and snatched the jewelry and car keys from two diners who were sitting inside. The suspects got away in a white Lexus. Surveillance video was also released of a July 5 robbery, in which two suspects entered a Melrose Avenue jewelry store and robbed two people who had been shopping, getting away with an estimated $70,000 worth of their property.

Watts is also suspected in a July 14 robbery at a Melrose clothing store. According to the LAPD, two suspects got out of a newer model BMW X5 in front of the store and demanded the jewelry worn by a shopper. 

"A struggle ensued in which the victim's necklace and shirt was removed from his body, the victim ran further into the store, behind the sales counter and cash register," an LAPD statement said. "The struggle continued over the victim's expensive watch he was wearing. The victim's necklace and ring were taken in the robbery."

LAPD officers who were flagged down and notified of the robbery saw the suspects run outside while still holding their handguns, police said. Officers opened fire, and one of the suspects dropped their handgun, which was recovered by investigators.

Watts is being held without bail, and police say he was wanted for a parole violation and had an active warrant since June 2021. Watts' booking photo was released because police say he may have been involved in other similar robberies across the state.

Anyone with information about the suspect or similar robberies can contact LAPD Robbery-Homicide Division Detectives Emily Delph or Angel Gomez at (213) 486-6840.

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