WEST VALLEY CITY It was a wild scene Tuesday night at a grocery store, where police kept making arrests one right after the other.
The strange series of events began about 7:20 p.m. at the Smith's Food and Drug, 4065 S. Redwood Road, when a police officer arrested a man for shoplifting and put him in the back of his patrol car, said West Valley Police Capt. Tom McLachlan.
While the officer was parked in front of the store finishing his work, he watched as store security officers chased a man outside the store. The man, who investigators later learned robbed the service desk at gunpoint, then attempted to carjack a vehicle but was unsuccessful, McLachlan said. The security employees tackled the man, whose gun turned out to be fake, and the officer handcuffed him.
The officer then watched as a large group of people came running out of the store. Unaware of what was happening, the officer called for backup, McLachlan said. It turned out that while the second suspect was robbing the store, he claimed that a friend walking around the store had a bomb. Store managers evacuated the building. No bomb was found.
While all of this was going on, a third man decided he would try to take advantage of the semi-chaotic situation and tried to shoplift some items from the store. He, too, was caught, McLachlan said.
All three of the men arrested did not have any connection to each other except they all coincidently decided to attempt to rob the same store at almost the same time, McLachlan said.
The 56-year-old man who robbed the store at gunpoint was booked into the Salt Lake County Jail for investigation of aggravated robbery and attempted carjacking. Detectives were investigating Wednesday whether he was also responsible for a similar robbery at another West Valley grocery store a couple of weeks ago.