Two Santa Maria men wanted in connection to separate armed robberies at a liquor store, a motel and on a street corner in the southwest portion of the city were arrested Monday night after witnesses identified the suspects.
Santa Maria Police Department officers responded about 7:45 p.m. to a report of an armed robbery at a liquor store in the 1500 block of South Broadway.
Officers were told a male suspect, later identified as 28-year-old Santa Maria resident Anthony Prado, walked into the store and allegedly took an alcoholic beverage from the cooler, according to Lt. Terry Flaa.
Prado refused to pay for the item and displayed what appeared to be a handgun as he walked out of the store, Flaa said.
Prado later walked back to the store as officers were investigating the crime scene and was arrested after witnesses identified Prado as the suspect, according to Flaa.
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Around the same time officers were arresting Prado, a second robbery victim contacted the Police Department and said Prado allegedly stole property from her motel room before brandishing a firearm when she tried to retrieve the item.
Officers searched the area around the store for a firearm and discovered a pellet gun that was allegedly discarded by Prado a block away, according to Flaa.
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Prado was booked into Santa Barbara County Jail on suspicion of two counts of robbery, each with a bail amount of $100,000.
About 10 minutes after the first robbery, and a little more than a mile away, Santa Maria police officers responded to another alleged armed robbery in the area of West Betteravia Road and South Thornburg Street.
When police responded to the scene just before 8 p.m., officers were told by the victim that he was approached by a male suspect who threatened him with a gun while demanding money.
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The victim gave money to the suspect, who was reported fleeing northbound on Thornburg Street, Flaa said.
Officers searched the area and saw a person matching the description of the suspect, 19-year-old Santa Maria resident Martin Montez de Oca, who was allegedly identified by the witness.
Officers determined that de Oca did not actually possess a handgun during the alleged crime, according to Flaa, but instead led the victim to believe he had one and was willing to use it.
De Oca was booked into Santa Barbara County Jail on suspicion of one count of felony robbery, with bail set at $100,000.