Sunday, June 9, 2024

Man jailed for 6 years after bear spray attack

New York – One of the men who used a gun, bear spray and hammers in an armed robbery of a Bronx, New York, jewellery store in August 2022 has been sentenced.


Pablo Armando Valenzuela, 33, of the Bronx, New York, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero to 70 months in prison, nearly six years, according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Southern District of New York.


Valenzuela previously pleaded guilty to one count of robbery under the Hobbs Act.

On the evening of August 10, 2022, Valenzuela and at least five other suspects wearing ski masks robbed a jewellery store on East Fordham Road.

Valenzuela entered first and sprayed a can of bear spray into the employees’ eyes, temporarily blinding them.

Customers, including children, were in the store at the time, the US Attorney’s Office said.

The five other masked robbers then entered and used hammers to smash glass display cases, making off with $800,000 in merchandise, according to the New York Police Department.

The men fled in different directions, on foot, in cars and on the backs of mopeds driven by co-conspirators who acted as lookouts and getaway drivers.

As the men fled, Valenzuela sprayed bystanders with bear spray, many of whom were taken to hospital.

“The defendant committed a violent armed robbery of a Bronx jewellery store and injured innocent employees and bystanders by spraying a can of extremely dangerous bear spray directly in their faces,” said U.S. Attorney Damian Williams.

“Violent criminals who commit gun crimes and terrorise hardworking New Yorkers will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

In addition to his prison sentence, Valenzuela was sentenced to three years of supervised release.

His co-defendant, Aaron Miller, pleaded guilty to one count of robbery under the Hobbs Act and will be sentenced on 1 December.

The other suspects have not been apprehended.

The case is being handled by the General Crimes Section of the United States Attorney’s Office. Assistant US Attorney Amanda C. Weingarten is handling the prosecution.

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