A pair of armed but nervous young bandits tried to rob a southeast Fresno jewelry store, but quickly changed their minds when the store's owner emerged from a back room with a shotgun and ordered them out.
Detective Brandi Phebus said the incident took place just before 4 p.m. Friday at Joyeria Marlenes in the Save Mart shopping center on the northeast corner of Kings Canyon Road and Clovis Avenue. Police released information about the case Tuesday, asking for the public's help to catch the bandits.
Police and a store clerk said Tuesday that the suspects walked in posing as customers. One bandit then pulled out a handgun, racked the slide and pointed it at the clerk while demanding cash. The second bandit tried to jump the counter but fell down before walking behind it.
Noe Guzman is the clerk who let the two young men into the store. Tuesday at the store, Guzman said one bandit started asking him questions about bracelets when the other pulled out the gun.
"He cocked the gun," Guzman recalled. "I moved over so that my friend in the back could see."
Police identified Guzman's "friend" as his uncle, and said the man is the store owner and was in the back room with his daughter and newborn grandchild when the robbers came in. Neither police nor Guzman named the store owner.
Guzman said the robber with the gun looked nervous and more afraid he would hurt himself than shoot Guzman.
"I didn't want him to shoot me, he was shaking," Guzman said. "So I told him, 'Calm down, everything's OK.' "
That's when the owner came out of the back room with his gun -- a shotgun with a bullpup stock -- and told the robbers to back up. Guzman said the gunman shifted his attention from Guzman to the owner, and the other robber dropped on the floor and crawled "like the soldiers" toward the back door.
The crawling robber told the second to shoot. Instead, both robbers ran.
"My friend didn't shoot. You can't," Guzman said. "You just have to take care of your business. And they left running."
Detective Phebus said the suspects are both Hispanic, ages 17 to 21. The one seen holding a gun in a surveillance-camera video is about 6 feet tall and weighs 180 pounds with short brown hair. The other is about 5-6 to 5-8 and weighs 150 pounds with a goatee.
Anyone with information is asked to call Phebus at (559) 621-2427 or Crime Stoppers at (559) 498-STOP.