Chief Robert Handy was meeting a Neighborhood Watch captain at the Coco's on Highland Avenue on Wednesday morning when a customer mentioned that someone in the parking lot was selling power tools out of a backpack, Handy said Thursday.
"I was not in uniform, I was in a coat and tie, so I went out and talked to him," Handy said. "They were commercial tools, not like your mom or dad might have in the bottom drawer, and he offered to sell them to me."
Handy expressed interest and said he had to go inside to get his wallet. Instead, while inside he called for a patrol car to meet him in the parking lot.
"I tried to stall, but as soon as the police pulled in, he took off running and I took off chasing him," Handy said. "Either he pulled out a gun or dropped a gun, but he reached for his waistband, and as we struggled a little bit he dropped it."
The officers whose arrival had prompted the man to flee were a few steps behind, Handy said.
If he had been in uniform, Handy said he may have drawn his gun when he saw the man do the same.
"I was reaching for mine, there's no question, but at the same time, the accessibility of my suit is difficult to get to," he said. "If I'd had my gun, I may have pulled it. I'm not sure, since it all happened so quick."
The man turned out to be a 22-year-old transient from San Bernardino named Valid Llyas, said Lt. Paul Williams.
Llyas was charged with possession of an altered handgun because the gun's serial number had been scratched off and being a felon in possession of a handgun, said Williams, who didn't know what felony Llyas had been convicted of.
The tools were later determined to belong to Angie's Auto Center on Highland Ave., where they will be returned to, and Llyas will also be charged with burglary and possession of stolen property, Williams said.
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