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Department of Justice

U.S. Attorney's Office
Martin Estrada , United States Attorney
For Immediate Release
Monday, May 15, 2023

Phoenix Man Pleads Guilty to Armed Robbery Spree That Ended in High-Speed Chase in Which He Opened Fire on Law Enforcement

RIVERSIDE, California – An Arizona man pleaded guilty today to federal criminal charges for committing armed robberies of nine stores in Southern California and Arizona during a crime spree last summer 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, 27, of Phoenix, pleaded guilty to two counts of interference with commerce by robbery (Hobbs Act) and two counts of brandishing and discharging a firearm during a crime of violence.

According to his plea agreement, from July 31, 2022, until his arrest on August 20, 2022, Smith went on an armed robbery spree in Los Angeles, Orange, and San Bernardino counties as well as in Arizona. Specifically, Smith admitted to targeting and robbing a Big Lots store in Riverside and PetSmart stores in Signal Hill, Orange, San Bernardino, Fontana, Pico Rivera, Redlands, Phoenix, and Rancho Cucamonga.

In each of these robberies, Smith brandished a firearm to control the stores’ employees.

After Smith robbed the Rancho Cucamonga PetSmart store, stealing $400 from a store employee, he exited the store and law enforcement, which included federal officers, confronted him. Smith then opened fire at the officers.

Smith then entered his vehicle and sped off, leading law enforcement on a high-speed chase, during which he fired his gun numerous times at pursuing officers. The chase ended when law enforcement rammed into Smith’s vehicle.

According to court documents, 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, according to an affidavit filed with a criminal complaint in this case.

United States District Judge Jesus G. Bernal scheduled a January 22, 2024 sentencing hearing, at which time Smith will face a mandatory minimum sentence of 17 years in federal prison and a statutory maximum sentence of life imprisonment.

The ATF Orange County Violent Crime Task Force investigated this matter. The task force, which is responsible for investigating serial robberies around Southern California, is comprised of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (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 Attorney Jeffrey M. Chemerinsky, Chief of the Violent and Organized Crime Section and Assistant United States Attorney Kevin J. Butler, also of the Violent and Organized Crime Section, are prosecuting this case.

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