A Tulare man has been arrested in the robbery of the Marshalls store in Visalia that involved an explosive device going off inside a purse just after the suspect fled with stolen clothes.
Larry Mock, 40, was arrested without incident late Thursday night in a Tulare hotel, where police had tracked him down.
About 6:21 p.m. Tuesday at Marshalls on Mooney Boulevard, police and the Visalia Fire Department hazardous materials unit were called because of an explosion at the store.
Someone put a green soda bottle with an unknown substance inside into a purse for sale, police said. A chemical reaction in the bottle caused the bottle cap to blow off, causing a loud bang.
A man ran out of the store through an emergency exit and was seen carry a bag of stolen clothes. Police believe the explosion was a diversionary tactic.
The explosion caused a mess: An unknown acid-like corrosive liquid damaged clothing and racks, causing $3,000 in damage, Sgt. Damon Maurice said.
The next day, a Visalia police officer pulled over a car in a routine traffic stop unrelated to the Marshalls incident. The driver gave his license to the officer, then sped away as the officer held it.
Police chased the car and soon found it abandoned on West Reese Street east of the southern end of the Mooney Boulevard retail district.
The car matched the description of a car seen leaving Marshall, and police found stolen merchandise from Marshalls and two more bottles containing the unknown explosive, which the fire department removed.
The drivers license belonged to Mock, who police were familiar with from other incidents, Maurice said. At 11:55 p.m. Thursday, police found him at the Tulare hotel room and arrested him.
He’s now in jail on suspicion of robbery, conspiracy, possession of materials with intent to make explosives, explosion with intent to injure or intimidate, and evading.