Five suspects, including one juvenile, have been arrested and charged in connection with the Jan. 2 ransacking of Ruben’s Bakery & Mexican Food, Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna said at a news conference Tuesday.
Luna said the juvenile, about 13 years old, is the suspected driver of the white Kia Soul that, driving in reverse, slammed three times into the Compton bakery, causing the structural damage that allowed a mob of more than 100 people to enter and steal from the store. The family, uplifted by strong community support, has since reopened their business' doors.
The juvenile, according to Luna, was arrested Jan. 12 on suspicion of burglary, vandalism, driving a vehicle without the owner's consent and inciting a riot. He was later cited and released to his family. But later that same day, the sheriff said, the juvenile was arrested again — this time in connection with a robbery in Carson that was caught on a viral video.
The young teen is currently being held in juvenile hall, Luna said.
The sheriff said that a deputy walked into a Carson 7-Eleven unaware that a robbery was in progress. He foiled the attempt, which involved multiple people, including juveniles. The incident was captured on surveillance video, which went viral.
"His actions resulted in the arrest of all those individuals," Luna said of the deputy. "One of the juveniles in that case was the same juvenile who was arrested" in the Ruben's Bakery incident.
Luna added of the suspect: "He was the driver of that Kia, so it's all related.”
The sheriff said three additional search warrants were served Tuesday morning as part of the ongoing investigation. Four people were arrested on suspicion of burglary and possession of stolen property.
Three of the four suspects are in custody. One was booked and released.
The Sheriff’s Department identified the suspects as Jesse Cuevas, 21; Eloise Muniz, 23; Jalen Hull, 21; and Carlos Ponce Mejia, 20.
Luna stressed that the arrests were the result of tips and collaboration between law enforcement and the community.
"When people started to see the video" showing the ransacking of the Compton bakery, "they were so offended that we started to get a lot of tips," Luna said. "Kudos to every community member who decided that this was absolutely 100% wrong and decided to do something about it."
Ruben’s Bakery owner Ruben Ramirez Jr., who runs the business with his family, thanked Luna and the Sheriff’s Department for their “hard work on the case.”
“On Jan. 2, our world was turned upside down,” Ramirez Jr. said in a statement, “and if it wasn’t for the quick response from your officers, we know that our family’s business would have been completely lost.”
Ramirez Jr. stressed the importance of stopping street takeovers, which occur when a crowd blocks off an intersection for cars to do doughnuts and perform other street-racing maneuvers.
“No business, whether they are in Beverly Hills or in Compton, should ever have to worry about illegal street takeovers and smash-and-grab robberies from taking place,” he said. “Just as important, we need to make sure that criminals know that if they break the law, they will be held responsible.”
The 51-year-old, whose father, Ruben Ramirez Sr., began the business four decades ago, asked the Compton City Council, including Mayor Emma Sharif, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors and L.A. County Dist. Atty. George Gascón to “help us take back our communities.”
“Our communities belong to the working families who live, work and shop in the community,” he said. “We have laws to protect us, and we demand that you work together to make sure that they are enforced.”
The break-in caused upward of $70,000 in damage, a financial hit to a business that was struggling to find its footing after the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Ramirez Jr. previously told The Times.
The family crowdfunded the estimated cost of repairs and an additional $20,000. The Ramirez family has used the money to make fixes and for extra security measures, they wrote in an update on their GoFundMe page.
Additionally, they are planning to replace any lost or damaged products and pay bonuses to their employees, who lost wages after the store temporarily closed due to the robbery. The family plans to host a communitywide event next month in honor of the store's 48th anniversary.
“Compton has been a part of our family for almost 50 years and we plan to be here for 50 years more,” the GoFundMe page read. “That’s only possible because of all of you and from the bottom of our hearts, we thank you!”
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.