A gang of would-be robbers entered a jewelry store and deployed a canister of bear spray in the hopes of stealing thousands of dollars in merchandise. Little did they know that the owner had a far more “potent” weapon for such a scenario.

The Fontana Herald News reports that four male suspects entered the Uptown Jewelry Mart in Upland at around 2:30 p.m. with the intention of carrying out a smash-and-grab robbery. The men spread out and prepared to shatter each of the protective glass cases, pocketing the expensive jewelry and leaving just as quick as they came.

What may have been a devastating financial blow for the small business owner in California has turned into a prime example of self-defense. In fact, even the local police chief couldn’t help but laud the store owner’s resourcefulness even when outnumbered.

Hoping to incapacitate and distract the customers and employees, the thieves deployed a large canister of bear spray, which is an aerosol that dispenses highly irritant capsaicin. Unfortunately for the gang, the store owner had something that was far more effective for disabling and deterring unwelcome individuals.

As soon as the thieves deployed the bear spray, the owner grabbed his firearm and threatened to shoot every one of the gang members. Without hesitation, the thieves fled the building empty-handed, jumping into a waiting getaway car driven by a fifth suspect. The group fled before police could arrive on the scene, the Daily Bulletin reports.

Detectives immediately reviewed surveillance videotapes that captured the incident from inside the store. However, the men had all worn face coverings, making it difficult for investigators to identify them. Fortunately, the Upland Police Department received a tip from the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department’s Chino Hills Station, which led to a search warrant of an Upland apartment and, subsequently, multiple arrests.

The suspects were Jonathan Williamson, 36, from Upland; Gerald Kay, 30, a parolee from Fontana; Dalon La Flora, 29, a parolee from Los Angeles; and Jahaad Crawford, 30, who was on federal probation and was wanted for an outstanding warrant. The men were booked at West Valley Detention Center on multiple felony charges. Police had difficulties locating the fifth suspect. The men are all believed to be members of a local criminal street gang.

The community has since hailed the store owner a hero for successfully defending his business, employees, and customers without firing a single shot. In fact, even the local police chief praised the owner for his prowess.

The San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department believes that some of the men who tried to rob the Uptown Jewelry Mart are the same suspects involved in several other smash-and-grab robberies of jewelry stores in Claremont and Chino Hills.

Now that the word is out that the Uptown Jewelry Mart is armed, robbers will likely avoid that particular store. (Photo Credit: Pixabay)
The jewelry store owner could have easily ended up like the other owners who were targeted by the gang — scrambling to pick up the pieces after their inventory was decimated by the thieves. However, he was armed and well prepared for such a scenario, allowing him, his business, and everyone else in the store to escape unscathed.