SANTA ROSA - Three men arrested in Petaluma this afternoon are suspected to have committed a robbery in Santa Rosa hours earlier, police said.
Two masked men, one with a shotgun and the other with a hammer, entered Bennett Valley Jewelers at 2700 Yulupa Ave. around 1 p.m., Lt. Ray Navarro said.
The shotgun-wielding man held the employees and customers at gunpoint while the hammer-wielding man smashed the jewelry cases. One of the employees fired several shots from a handgun at the suspect with a shotgun and the suspects fled, Navarro said.
Ty Visscher, an employee of Bennett Valley Jewelers, said no one inside the store was injured. He declined to comment further.
The suspects fled, jumping over a fence into a condo complex and then got into a waiting vehicle and three suspects drove away, Navarro said.
Petaluma police stopped a similar vehicle, and the three suspects were brought back to Santa Rosa as persons of interests after one was checked out in a hospital, Navarro said.
After obtaining evidence of the robbery in the car, including the gun believed to be used to hold up the store, police arrested the three men on suspicion of robbery, police said.
They were identified as Traveon Banks-Austin, 23, of San Pablo, and Hayward residents Alexander Tyvon Brandon, 23, and Ervin Dixon Jr., 25. All three men were booked into the Sonoma County Jail on suspicion of armed robbery.
Petaluma police issued an alert around 1:35 p.m. about police activity on southbound Highway 101 at E. Washington St., and at 3:37 p.m. reported all roads were open.
Lisa Reiske, an employee of Joe Video located next to the jewelry store, said she heard four to six shots and heard a woman in the jewelry store yell around 1 p.m.
Reiske said as he called 9-1-1 she saw a tall, thin man in a gray hooded sweatshirt and black pants run down an alley. She said it looked like the man was holding something to the side of his body.