Ceres police detectives are seeking two men who committed a strong-arm robbery at a pizza restaurant Monday. But leaders of a youth football group that was in the restaurant and was socializing with the men are refusing to cooperate, police say.
The robbery occurred at Rico’s Pizza, 1460 Hatch Road, during a Ceres Cardinals Football event, according to police spokesman Sgt. Jose Berber. The event was hosted by Anthony Estrada, president of the Ceres Cardinals Football junior novice and junior varsity teams, Berber said, and included players ages 6 to 13 years, parents, coaches and the organization’s board of directors.
Surveillance cameras recorded the banquet, which lasted until almost midnight. “Two males (Suspect 1 and Suspect 2) can be seen dining, drinking beer and socializing with the banquet’s attendees. It appeared they were known among the group,” according to a Ceres police news release.
About 11:55 p.m., one of the suspects is seen walking up to the cash register clerk and having a verbal confrontation, Berber said.
The other suspect “is then seen walking up to the counter, around the counter, having a conversation with the clerk and then attacking the clerk without provocation. The suspect struck the victim several times, knocking him to the ground.”
The man who walked up to the clerk first is seen throwing the cash register to the ground and taking money from it, Berber said.
Meanwhile, the surveillance camera captured parents, children and other attendees rushing out the front door of the business. Both suspects met at the front door after the robbery and are seen exiting the front door together.
The clerk suffered minor injuries and did not require emergency medical attention, Berber said. “All of the youth organization leaders and coaches present during the robbery are refusing to cooperate with the police to bring these criminals to justice,” he said. “This includes the organization’s leader, Anthony Estrada, who was sharing a table with the suspects that night.”
Suspect 1 is described as a Latino male in his late 20s, about 6 feet tall, weighing about 250 pounds, wearing a black Raiders cap and black Raiders jersey with the number 20 on it.
Suspect 2 is a Latino male in his late 20s, 5-foot-6, about 240 pounds, with brown hair in a braided ponytail, brown eyes, goatee, wearing a white Raiders jersey with the number 75.
Ceres police investigators ask anyone who can provide information on the case or identify the suspects to contact Detective Tonya Smith at (209) 538-5729.