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Department of Justice

U.S. Attorney's Office
Central District of California
Contact: Ciaran McEvoy
For Immediate Release
Monday, August 22, 2022

Arizona Man Charged in Alleged Armed Robbery Spree That Ended in High-Speed Chase in Which He Fired Upon Federal Law Enforcement

LOS ANGELES – An Arizona man was charged today in a federal criminal complaint alleging he robbed 10 stores in Southern California and Arizona during a three-week crime spree that ended in a high-speed chase in which he fired upon federal agents and, after police rammed his car, he accidentally shot himself under his chin.

Samuel Sven Smith, 26, of Phoenix, was arrested on August 20 at the conclusion of a high-speed chase after he allegedly robbed a PetSmart store in Rancho Cucamonga. In a criminal complaint filed today, Smith was charged with interference with commerce by robbery (Hobbs Act), brandishing a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence, and assault on a federal officer.

Smith is in a hospital, recovering from his injuries. He is expected to make his initial appearance in United States District Court in the coming weeks.

According to an affidavit filed with the complaint, Smith, armed with a gun, robbed 10 businesses – nine of them PetSmart stores – beginning on July 31 and ending August 20. The targeted stores were a Big Lots store in Riverside and PetSmart stores in Signal Hill, Orange, San Bernardino, Fontana, Pico Rivera, Redlands, Huntington Beach, Phoenix, and Rancho Cucamonga.

During the armed robbery spree, Smith allegedly used a distinct black handbag with pink trim during the robberies and pointed a black handgun at store employees at the cash register. The total loss to the stores was approximately $7,091, according to the affidavit.

On August 20, Smith allegedly robbed a PetSmart store in Rancho Cucamonga, but noticed law enforcement approaching him. Smith opened the driver’s side door of his car and fire at least two rounds at the unmarked vehicle for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), which was struck by gunfire. An officer in another vehicle then returned fire.

Smith then entered his car and fled at a high rate of speed for approximately 20 minutes through several different cities. During this pursuit, Smith allegedly fired several rounds at the law enforcement officers pursuing him. 

The pursuit ended when law enforcement rammed their vehicle into Smith’s car. When law enforcement approached Smith’s car, they determined he had suffered a gunshot wound underneath his chin. Smith told officers who were performing life saving measures, that when they rammed into his vehicle, he accidentally shot himself.

At the time of his arrest, Smith was still wearing the same clothing that he wore during the robbery, including the ski mask. In the passenger seat, law enforcement recovered the firearm. On the floorboard of the driver’s seat, law enforcement recovered several rounds of live ammunition.

A complaint contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

If convicted of all charges, Smith would face a statutory maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison on the Hobbs Act robbery count, seven years in federal prison for the firearm brandishing count and 20 years in federal prison for the assaulting a federal officer count.

The ATF Orange County Violent Crime Task Force is investigating this matter. The task force, which is responsible for investigating serial robberies around Southern California, is comprised of the ATF; the Brea Police Department; the Fullerton Police Department; the Santa Ana Police Department; and the Orange County District Attorney’s Office. The San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department provided assistance.

Assistant United States Attorneys Jeffrey M. Chemerinsky and Kevin J. Butler of the Violent and Organized Crime Section are prosecuting this case.

Release No. 22-161


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