PALM DESERT: Retired officer ends false imprisonment crisis at factory outlet store

PALM DESERT — A man who barricaded himself in the back room of a retail business with a store employee was arrested after a retired law enforcement officer forced open the door to the room and detained the alleged suspect – rescuing the terrified employee. Sheriff’s bomb squad members were later summoned to the scene to inspect a “suspicious device” found inside the man’s bag, Thursday evening, Jan. 18.

Andrew Campbell was arrested for false imprisonment after barricading himself inside a Skechers back room with a store employee, Thursday night. RSO booking photo

The incident happened inside Skechers Factory Outlet, at the Town Center Square Shopping Center on the 44400 block of Town Center Way. The shopping center also features a number of other businesses, including PetSmart, HomeGoods, Nordstrom’s and a Whole Foods Market.

After their investigation, authorities arrested Andrew Lance Campbell, 28, of Los Angeles. He was later booked into Indio Jail on suspicion of false imprisonment and committing a felony while out on bail, Riverside Sheriff’s Investigator Armando Muñoz explained after the incident.

Area employees had reported that Campbell “appeared to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol” and was acting “suspicious.”

According to store employees and other witnesses, the incident began about 6:45 p.m., when Campbell ran into the store being chased by the retired officer. The man “was yelling and acting erratically,” according to Muñoz.

With the retired officer in hot pursuit, Campbell fled into and locked himself inside a back room at the business. A Skechers’ employee who was in the back room when Campbell burst in was trapped inside the room with the bizarrely acting man.

After receiving several 911 calls reporting the incident, deputies from the Riverside County Sheriff’s Palm Desert Police Station rushed to the business.

Before deputies arrived the retired law enforcement officer, who officials have not identified by name or former agency, forced his way into the locked room and was able to detain Campbell and save the employee from harm.

Members of Palm Desert PD’s Business District Team responded to the scene and assumed the investigation.

As their investigation was getting under way deputies located a suspicious device inside a bag belonging to Campbell. For “precautionary purposes,” members of the Sheriff’s Hazardous Device Team was summoned to the scene to inspect the device and render it safe if necessary. When bomb squad members arrived and inspected the unspecified device, they determined it posed no danger.

An online jail record search revealed Campbell remains in custody, held on $30,000 bail. He is scheduled to be arraigned at Indio’s Larson Justice Center, Jan. 19.

After Campbell’s arrest, Muñoz used the opportunity to explain to citizens some basic safety protocols for reporting suspected suspicious devices and explained that when finding an object that “appears hazardous in nature” to leave the object where it was found and call 911 from a non-cellular telephone line.

“It is recommended to refrain from using a cellular telephone or any other electronic device near and around any suspected explosive devices, when possible,” Muñoz explained.

Anyone with information about this incident and investigation is encouraged to contact Business District Team Member Deputy Troyer at the Palm Desert Police Department at (760) 836-1696. Callers can refer to incident file number T180170157 and can remain anonymous. Citizens may also submit a tip using the Sheriff’s CrimeTips online form.

 

Contact the writer: trevor.rcns@gmail.com

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Trevor Montgomery, who recently moved from Riverside County to Shasta County, runs Riverside County News Source and Shasta County News Source. Additionally, he writes for Riverside County based newspapers Valley News, The Valley Chronicle and Anza Valley Outlook as well as 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, breaking his back and suffering both spinal cord and brain injuries 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 27 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 14 grandchildren.

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