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Koreatown bakery robbed by masked gunman, police arrived 20 minutes after the call

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An armed robbery took place at a bakery in Los Angeles Koreatown, raising concerns among residents in the neighborhood amid a recent string of robberies targeting small businesses.

At around 10:20 p.m. on June 25, a suspect armed with a handgun entered the Coin De Rue Bakery and Cafe near 11th Street and Western Avenue, threatened three workers, and fled with about $800 in cash from the register.

According to surveillance camera footage, the employees were preparing to close when the incident occurred. A man entered the store and walked to the register, pulling out a revolver from his crossbody bag. He threatened the employees and demanded money.

Terrified by the gun threat, the bakery workers did not resist and opened the cash register. The armed robber took the cash and walked away. The entire robbery took just 45 seconds.

The robbery suspect, disguised in a cap, mask, and gloves, threatens employees with a handgun at a bakery in Los Angeles Koreatown. [Courtesy of Coin De Rue Bakery and Cafe]

The bakery reported that the robbery suspect was a non-Korean man in his 30s, wearing a camouflage hat, a mask, gloves, and sleeve protectors.

“At that time, all the other shops in the mall (about 10 businesses) were closed,” the bakery cafe manager told the Korea Daily, adding, “It looks like the suspect knew our cafe’s business hours in advance because he came in almost at the end of the closing time.”

The workers’ calm response during the attack prevented any casualties. “We didn’t expect this to happen, but we’ve always taught our employees that if someone asks for money, just give it to them,” said the manager.

However, the bakery expressed disappointment that they had previously requested a security guard from the mall owner after a recent spate of incidents and accidents, but their request was not granted.

The manager also pointed out that the employees called 911 to report the armed robbery immediately after the incident, but it took more than 30 minutes for the police to arrive. “I think the police came late because there were no injuries reported,” the manager said. “It’s scary to think that the police will not be there on time during a robbery like this.”

The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) Public Information Office stated that it took 20 minutes for officers to arrive at the scene after receiving the call about the armed robbery.

“The call was received at 10:41 p.m., and officers were dispatched 16 minutes later. They arrived at the scene at 11:01 p.m.” They explained that the delay was due to the officer in charge handling other tasks. The police department is understaffed by about 1,000 since 2019, resulting in a shortage of manpower.

At a panel discussion at the Korean American Federation of Los Angeles in April, Interim Chief Dominic Choi and Mayor Karen Bass apologized for the criticism raised by Koreatown residents regarding the late response of police officers and promised to prevent a recurrence of such incidents in the neighborhood.

A series of incidents continue to be reported in Los Angeles Koreatown. Earlier on April 26, a suspect stole a bag from a customer’s chair and fled from Awon restaurant. On April 7, three suspects assaulted a Chinese man and robbed him of money in the parking lot of an apartment building on Berendo Street in Koreatown. On February 1, a man and woman entered a Kimbap Paradise restaurant pretending to be customers and stole another customer’s bag left on a chair.

BY HYOUNGJAE KIM, HOONSIK WOO [kim.ian@koreadaily.com]