DENVER – Sources tell FOX31 Denver the “32 Bandit” -a 17-year-old suspected in more than two dozen armed robberies in the metro area- has been captured in San Bernardino, California.
The San Bernardino County Sheriff's Office says two 17-year-olds from Colorado were arrested Wednesday night after two armed robberies just 15 minutes apart in Rancho Cucamonga.
Authorities say the “32 Bandit” has robbed at least 24 fast food restaurants and other types of businesses in metro Denver over the past month.
He has worn a sweatshirt or “hoodie” with the number 32 on it, and has been known to point a gun in the face of employees while demanding money.
Aliesha Nuttel knows the fear of that all too well. The suspect stuck a gun in her face and it was all captured on videotape. She owns a pizza shop in Aurora. She got the news of the arrest of the suspect Thursday afternoon and she says she still can't believe it.
Aurora Police say the teens arrested in southern California are no officially connected to the robberies in metro Denver, but it is something investigators here are looking into.
Nevertheless, business owners in Denver say they are breathing a huge sigh of relief.
The "32 Bandit" terrorized restaurants and other businesses in metro Denver for three months. The crime spree may have come to an end Wednesday night in southern California. Sources say he suspect, a teenager, was caught right after two armed robberies happened just 15 minutes apart.
"It's such a surreal feeling," says robbery victim Aliesha Nuttel. "I am overjoyed and relieved. I cannot even describe the feeling to you."
Nuttel is the woman in the terrifying video of the "32 Bandit" holding her up on March 1.
She got the news of the arrest from one of her regular customers, a police officer.
"He said 'hey Aliesha... did you hear the good news?' I said what's that? He said they caught the robber! I just couldn't believe it. And tears filled my eyes and I ran over to him and I screamed and I hugged him."
The "32 Bandit" would go into businesses with a gun drawn and demand cash before running off. He was masked and covered up, and even though many of the robberies were caught on surveillance videotape, witnesses never got a good look at him.
"He sounded like a punk. He just talked like a punk," Nuttel says.
He earned his nickname because he sometimes wore a sweatshirt that had the number 32 on it.
Witnesses also described a suspect who wore a gray "hoodie." That's what the suspect was wearing in Wednesday night's robberies in California. according to a San Bernardino County Sheriff's Office press release.
"I knew someone would know this guy and would tip off the Police Department. Whoever you are, I cannot thank you enough," Nuttel says.
As thankful as she is that this robber may be off the streets, she knows she can't let her guard down.
"I would like to know who trained him. I would like to know his background. He is a 1-year-old kid from what I understand. How did he get by with this unless he had a mentor?"
Aurora Police released a statement Thursday afternoon, saying they have not yet tied the suspect to crimes in their jurisdiction.AlertMe