UPDATED: CORONA: 67-year-old arrested after armed robbery, hours-long standoff

UPDATE: May 17, 11 a.m.

CORONA – Officials arrested a 67-year-old Corona resident after the man allegedly demanded prescription medication at gunpoint from a Norco area pharmacy. After fleeing from the scene of the robbery, the elderly man held authorities at bay for several hours during a barricaded standoff. (Click link to view original story)

The normally quiet Corona neighborhood was quickly swarmed by officials who responded to the standoff. John Nancy Casper/Casper News photo

The incident, which began Tuesday afternoon, May 16, ended more than seven hours later at a residence on the 2600 block of Castle Rock Circle, north of Corydon Street and west of River Road, in Corona.

Sheriff’s Emergency response Team (SERT/SWAT) members eventually made entry into the residence and arrested Jeffrey Crawford without incident, according to sheriff’s officials.

Officials have not released a motive for the robbery or what might have led the elderly man to use a gun to obtain prescription medication.

They have also not yet specified what type of medication Crawford demanded from the pharmacy or if it was medication prescribed to him by a doctor.

The standoff forced the evacuation of numerous residences surrounding the neighborhood as well as a nearby daycare facility. Children were eventually released to their anxious parents after they were hoisted up and over a fence, into the arms of their relieved parents.

During the lengthy standoff, neighbors could be seen milling about outside the cordoned-off crime scene area, waiting for an all-clear signal that wouldn’t come until well after midnight. Some residents watched all the police activity with interest, while others voiced their frustration about being forced from their homes.

Heavily armed members of the Sheriff’s Emergency Response Team responded to the incident. John Nancy Casper/Casper News photo

The incident began just before 4 p.m., when Crawford allegedly robbed a pharmacy on the 2800 block of Hamner Avenue in Norco. He reportedly fled with prescription medication.

When deputies arrived at the business, victims and witnesses told them that a man entered the business and “demanded prescription medication while displaying a handgun,” Riverside Sheriff’s Sergeant Chris Durham explained in a written press release after the investigation and arrest.

The elderly suspect “fled the location prior to deputies’ arrival,” said Durham.

No employees or citizens were injured during the armed robbery or subsequent standoff.

During their initial investigation, authorities quickly identified Crawford as the alleged suspect. Deputies also developed leads and gathered information that led them to the Corona residence.

Officials responded to the Castle Rock Circle address and attempted to convince Crawford to exit the residence; however the man reportedly refused to communicate with officials or exit the residence.

Members of the Sheriff’s Emergency Response Team stand at the ready as the incident progressed. John Nancy Casper/Casper News photo

Based on the circumstances, deputies and Corona police officers surrounded the home and established a perimeter around the neighborhood.

Members from the Sheriff’s Emergency Response Team, Hazardous Device Team and Crisis Negotiators responded to the neighborhood to assist during the lengthy standoff.

Several specialized tactical vehicles were also brought to the location; including armored tactical rescue vehicles from both the Riverside County Sheriff’s and Corona Police Departments, a Sheriff’s Mobile Command Center, and an armored battering ram.

The normally quiet, residential cul-de-sac was soon swarming with Riverside County Sheriff and Corona PD officials who responded to the scene of the standoff.

When they arrived, SERT members and Crisis Negotiators assumed the investigation, according to Durham.

“The SWAT and Crisis Negotiation Teams eventually contacted Crawford and ordered him to peacefully exit his residence,” Durham explained. Crawford reportedly refused to come out of the home.

Officials deployed a robot and flash-bangs during the standoff. John Nancy Casper/Casper News photo

As the standoff continued, officials deployed a robot and flash-bangs in an effort to coax Crawford to exit the residence. In spite of their efforts, Crawford remained inside the residence.

At 11:20 p.m., SERT members entered the residence and arrested Crawford, ending the nearly eight-hour-long ordeal.

Crawford was arrested without incident, according to sheriff’s officials.

After his arrest, “Crawford was taken to a local area hospital for medical evaluation,” said Durham, who explained after his evaluation Crawford will be booked into the Robert Presley Detention Center in Riverside on suspicion of robbery.

The evening after the standoff, Jim Berringer – who lives in the neighborhood where the incident ended – said the robbery and standoff have been the talk of the neighborhood, with many people questioning why Crawford resorted to such drastic measures to obtain prescription medication.

While he was not evacuated from his residence, Berringer said several of his friends and neighbors sought refuge at his home while they waited anxiously to receive word that the standoff had ended so they could return to their houses.

An armored battering ram was one of several specialized tactical vehicles that responded to the hours-long incident. John Nancy Casper/Casper News photo

“I’m just happy the whole thing ended peacefully, without somebody getting shot or killed,” Berringer said.

“I can’t say how much I appreciate the hard work and effort of our officers,” Berringer continued. “I just hope that (Crawford) can get the help he needs.”

The investigation into the incident is active and ongoing.

Anyone with additional information regarding this incident or investigation is encouraged to contact Deputy Isaac Perez at the Norco Sheriff’s Office at (951) 270-5673. Callers can refer to incident file number G171360027 and can remain anonymous. Citizens may also submit a tip using the Sheriff’s CrimeTips online form.

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Contact the writer: trevor.rcns@gmail.com

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Trevor Montgomery runs Riverside County News Source and Shasta County News Source. Additionally, he writes for Riverside County based newspapers, Valley News and Anza Valley Outlook and also writes for Bonsall/Fallbrook Village News in San Diego County.

Trevor spent 10 years in the U.S. Army as an Orthopedic Specialist before joining the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department in 1998. He was medically retired after losing his leg and breaking his back in an off-duty accident.

During his time with the sheriff’s department, Trevor worked at several different stations, including Robert Presley Detention Center, Southwest Station in Temecula, Hemet/Valle Vista Station, Ben Clark Public Safety Training Center and Lake Elsinore Station, along with other locations.

Trevor’s assignments included Corrections, Patrol, DUI Enforcement, Boat and Personal Water-Craft based Lake Patrol, Off-Road Vehicle Enforcement, Problem Oriented Policing Team and Personnel/Background Investigations. He finished his career while working as a Sex Crimes and Child Abuse Investigator and was a court-designated expert in child abuse and child sex-related crimes.

Trevor has been married for more than 26 years and was a foster parent to more than 60 children over 13 years. He is now an adoptive parent and has 13 children and 12 – soon to be 13 – grandchildren.

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