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Robbery leads to brawl, standoff

Two arrested in Canyon Country caper

Posted: July 6, 2009 10:07 p.m.
Updated: July 7, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Twenty-six-year-old Joshua Baker is placed under arrest for robbery Monday afternoon. For about six hours, Baker and an unknown female barricaded themselves in his apartment where they were taken out by the SWAT and sheriff's deputies around noon Monday. Jakes Way and Sandy Drive were taped off by sheriff deputies from around 6 a.m. until noon.

 
What began as a purse-snatching in Canyon Country spun wildly out of control Monday when one suspect punched a sheriff's deputy and another holed up in a nearby apartment for hours with his girlfriend, authorities said.

Daren Knutson, 39, and Joshua Baker, 26, were arrested in the incident, said Los Angeles County sheriff's Lt. Tom Bryski - Knutson on suspicion of the robbery and assaulting a sheriff's deputy and Baker on suspicion of robbery.

At about 5:45 a.m., a woman flagged down a car and asked the motorist to call police. She said two men had punched her and snatched some items out of her purse.

She pointed sheriff's deputies to Knutson and Baker. They went to question Knutson and things got messy.

"(Deputies) went to detain him, and the fight was on," Bryski said.

Knutson punched one deputy in the mouth and struggled with deputies for several minutes before they were able to handcuff him.

The deputy and Knutson were each treated for minor injuries they received in the scuffle.

Investigators then went to Baker's apartment, but he wouldn't answer, said Sgt. Derrick Ballentine.

Dozens of deputies then amassed along Sierra Highway and taped off a cul-de-sac outside Baker's apartment at Sandy Drive at Jakes Way, in one of Canyon Country's most crime-plagued areas.

They tried calling Baker's phone and shouted for him to come out, but got no response, Ballentine said.

For about six hours, several people who lived in the apartment complex were stuck outside the police tape.

Resident Atanacio Santander, 42, woke his wife and children and whisked them to a nearby fast-food restaurant when the sheriff's deputies arrived in force. He said he lived next door to the apartment they were focusing on and feared the worst.

"I was scared of a bomb or something, because I had never seen so many police in my life," said Santander, who has lived there about three years.

Sabrina Zamora, 19, who also lives on the block, said police cars are a part of the neighborhood's scenery.

How often?

"Only when they raid houses ... about three times a month," she said.

Bryski said the area tends to see a lot of police and crime activity, but actual raids on houses are rare.

About a half hour before the arrests, a tired Santander paced in front of the yellow police tape, saying his family was rapidly growing tired of the restaurant's ambience and they just wanted to go home.

"I just signed my lease contract two days ago," he said. "Shoot, I don't know now."

Signal photographer Francisca Rivas contributed to this report.

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