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Suspect arrested in connection to Capitola Target shooting investigation

CAPITOLA, Calif. (KION) UPDATE 10:58 A.M. 12/9/21: A 26-year-old man has been arrested in connection to an attempted robbery investigation at a Target store and Chevron gas station in Capitola.

Capitola Police say the suspect is identified as Fernie Ruiz and is accused of shooting at a security car. in the parking lot of a Capitola Target store. Police say Ruiz is also accused of attempting to steal TVs from that store and of attempting to rob a Chevron.

Police say the suspect is facing charges for shooting at the security car and for attempting to rob the Chevron.

ORIGINAL STORY

Police are looking for a man who they say attempted to steal two large TV's from the Target in Capitola, and shot at security while running away.

The store was forced to go on lockdown around 8:30 Monday night after employees say they heard gunshots in the parking lot.

Capitola Police say the suspect attempted to walk out of the store with the two TV's, one of which was 75 inches.

"Some team members went outside just to ask him if he needed help, or ask what's going on, and when they came back in they looked frightened," said Manuel Castro, who was working that night.

Chief Andrew Dally says the suspect flashed a firearm at employees, dropped the TVs and ran toward 38th Ave. before shooting at mall security.

"The mall security happened to be in the old Sears parking lot area, and were behind, not pursuing. The individual turned around, pulled the firearm out and then shot one round that hit the passenger side of the security vehicle," said Chief Dally.

No one was injured in the shooting, but Castro says they used their employee active shooter training to lock down the store.

A shopper who was inside at the time told KION that employees started yelling at them to hide in the fitting rooms.

"They weren’t letting people out and there were some people knocking but we weren’t allowed to let anyone in. Everyone was moved downstairs and everything was locked," said Castro.

Police have only said the suspect is a Hispanic man, 25 to 35 years old, and around 5'7" to 5'10". They are still going through surveillance video but believe the suspect acted alone, and arrived and left on foot.

Chief Dally says they have seen an increase in thefts near the Capitola Mall, but he says it is not atypical for this busy time of year. He says investigators are working to see if any of the cases are connected.

"We already had a presence out there but we’re going to have a little bit more presence just to make sure that our shoppers can feel safe," said Chief Dally.

Dally also added that shoppers should always be aware of their surroundings, especially when loading items in their car, and says not to leave valuables within view.

KION reached out to Capitola Mall for a statement but did not hear back.

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Melody Waintal

Melody Waintal is the Digital Content Director for Telemund23.com and KION546.com

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Lisa Principi

Lisa Principi is a reporter at KION News Channel 5/46.

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