A Columbia store worker was sent to a local hospital after being physically assaulted by two suspects on Saturday night, who were later apprehended, following a chase with police.
Steven Ray Vargas, 39, of Nashville, was identified as one of two suspects in the aggravated robbery on Saturday from Columbia’s Superior Bakery & Grocery.
Vargas has been charged with robbery and is being held in Maury County Jail without bond. He also faces charges of illegal possession of a firearm, resisting arrest, driving under the influence and possession of cocaine for resale and possession of illegal drug accessories from other active arrest warrants for his arrest, Lt. Jeremy Haywood told the Daily Herald on Tuesday morning.
Arnaldo Cruz, 34, from La Vergne was identified as the second suspect by Columbia police on Tuesday evening.
Cruz faces charges of particularly aggravated theft, aggravated assault and felony to escape arrest.
The Columbia Police Department confirmed that officers responded to an aggravated theft at the grocery store at 2213 Carmack Boulevard around 10:30 p.m. Saturday.
A press release shared by the department said two men entered the store and brandished a gun before physically assaulting a store clerk while taking an undisclosed sum of money from a cash register.
The two then fled the scene in a black van.
The injured clerk was transported to the Maury Regional Medical Center, where he received treatment for his injuries. He has since been released from hospital care.
The search ends with a car chase
The ministry said the officers who responded were able to identify and locate the offenders’ vehicle as it fled the scene on its way north on Carmack Boulevard.
“It was a good observer effort on the part of the patrol officers,” Lt. Jeremy Haywood told the Daily Herald. “He saw the vehicle pass matching the description shared by the dispatch. When he turned to investigate, they fled.”
Officers attempted to stop the vehicle, but the suspects attempted to flee.
Officers chased the vehicle a short distance, about a mile, to Columbia’s Cemetery Avenue, where the vehicle overturned.
“The vehicle slipped off the road and ended up on the side,” said Haywood.
Deadlock leads to surrender
The officers who responded secured a perimeter surrounding the crash site and began negotiating the surrender of the two offenders.
After about 15 minutes of negotiations, CPD said the violators’ vehicle caught fire, forcing the two violators out of the vehicle. At that time, the two men were taken into safe custody by several officers.
“It took them a while to get out of the vehicle,” said Haywood. “It was a successful job on the part of the policemen who showed patience. No one was injured. No violence occurred at that time.”
After being assessed for injuries, the two suspects were then transported to the Columbia Police Department for interviews with the city’s Criminal Investigation Division.
Columbia Police said none of the offenders had any form of identification with them at the time of their arrest, and both refused to cooperate or provide a statement to confirm their identity.
Anyone with additional information that may assist in this investigation is encouraged to contact the Criminal Investigations Division of the Columbia Police Department at 931-560-1670, Columbia Police Department Dispatch (24 hours) at 931-388-2727, Maury County Crimestoppers at 931- 381-4900 or Columbia Police SAFE Tip Email at SAFETips@ColumbiaTN.com.