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GETAWAY CAR CRASHES NEAR SA
SUSPECTS SHOPLIFTED DISGUISES TO HOLD UP GAME PARLOR
Three suspects have been remanded into custody at the La Salle County Jail on felony charges related to the armed robbery of a game parlor in Cotulla from which they fled in a car that crashed near San Antonio after a police chase.
Identified as Roberto Rogelio Martinez, 40, of Cotulla; and Jonathan Longoria Menchaca, 34, and Mark Anthony Ramirez, 26, both of San Antonio, the suspects are believed responsible for a shoplifting crime Wednesday morning, October 26, at the Dollar General store on North Main Street in Cotulla, where they reportedly made off with a number of items that they would wear minutes later in committing an armed robbery.
Surveillance camera footage from the retail store shows two of the suspects apparently shopping for goods at 10:44 a.m. but then making a dash for the doors, according to La Salle County Sheriff’s Office Lieutenant Homar Olivarez, who added that witnesses confirmed the men climbed into a red Dodge Charger sedan and sped away.
Four minutes after the theft, the men reportedly arrived at the Lucky Turtle game parlor near the intersection of Market and Goft streets, where two entered the building and promptly held up the business at gunpoint and demanded money.
Again, surveillance camera footage helped identify the suspects, Lt. Olivarez said, and showed that the men were wearing sweatshirts and caps that they had stolen from the Dollar General.
The sheriff’s office has not disclosed how much cash was stolen from the game parlor.
In both incidents, the red sedan was identified as a getaway vehicle and was being driven by a third individual, Olivarez added.
The vehicle was listed as belonging to Roberto Martinez.
The sheriff’s office is crediting a number of witnesses with having provided information that helped law enforcement agencies put out an alert for the vehicle and its three occupants.
“Based on these witness statements and early evidence, it became apparent that the two incidents were connected,” the lieutenant said. “Law enforcement agencies in all surrounding counties were immediately notified.”
Investigators believe the suspects sped north from Cotulla on IH-35 and reached Natalia before they were spotted by police from that city, who began a pursuit that continued north as far as the Bexar County line, where the Charger was seen driving off the interstate onto a country road, according to Olivarez.
“By this time, agencies involved in the pursuit included the Bexar County Sheriff’s Office, the San Antonio Police Department with airborne support, and the Medina County Sheriff’s Office, who helped bring the suspects into custody,” the lieutenant said.
Officers pursuing the vehicle observed the crash near Von Ormy and noted that two men abandoned the vehicle and fled the scene on foot.
“We believe the suspects found a construction site and tried to blend in with workers there,” Olivarez said. “The manhunt for these men continued for a number of hours, until Southwest San Antonio ISD police reported to Bexar County sheriff’s deputies that there were individuals at the construction site who did not seem to fit in.”
Suspects Jonathan Menchaca and Mark Ramirez were found hiding in a van at the jobsite and were wearing construction workers’ vests, according to officers at the scene.
The handgun believed to have been used in the armed robbery was also recovered and has been identified as one that had earlier been reported stolen in San Antonio.
“We believe that Menchaca was the gunman in the game parlor and that Ramirez was his accomplice,” Olivarez said. “We also believe that Martinez was driving the getaway car, but that he was somehow left behind.
“Martinez was identified in Dilley and taken into custody on the same day, with the help of the Dilley Police Department,” the lieutenant added.
Each of the suspects has been charged with two counts of aggravated robbery and one count of engaging in organized criminal activity, according to the La Salle County Sheriff’s Office.
“We want to thank the people who came forward and proved to be good witnesses, recalling details that helped to identify these suspects,” Olivarez said on behalf of the sheriff’s office this week. “If you see a crime being committed, one of the best things you can do is observe and report, and be the best witness that you can be.”