“If we'd been half a beat behind we would have missed him,” Oakland police spokesman Roland Holmgren said after announcing the arrest of 19-year-old Lance Lindquist, who's originally from Florida but recently has been living in Oakland.
Sgt. Rebecca Campbell said police received “a whole bunch of phone calls” after they held a news conference on Dec. 21 announcing a reward of up to $25,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of two or three suspects they believe are responsible for a series of armed robberies at Asian restaurants in Oakland and surrounding cities.
Campbell said one lead was “very important” and led to the arrest of Lindquist on Sunday.
Police discovered that Lindquist had a one-way ticket to fly to Miami on Monday, Holmgren said.
Lindquist subsequently confessed to being involved in a string of robberies dating back to August and was charged on Dec. 26 with 57 counts of robbery, Campbell said. He's scheduled to return to Alameda County Superior Court on Jan. 3.
A search warrant that was served at Lindquist's house yielded evidence that linked him to the robberies, she said, although she declined to release any details.
Campbell said the number of counts against Lindquist is “a very large number” and is “unbelievably large,” but she explained that prosecutors were able to charge him with so many counts because there were multiple victims in each armed robbery.
Campbell said police have identified a second suspect in the robberies but aren't releasing his name at this point because many of the robbery victims are out of town for the holidays and they haven't yet been able to conduct a photo lineup and confirm that he's the culprit.
The second suspect therefore is still at large, she said. It's possible that there's also a third suspect that's also at large, Campbell said.
She called for anyone with additional information about Lindquist and the other suspects to come forward and talk to the police.
Campbell described the incidents as takeover robberies in which suspects armed with a long gun known as a “Tommy Gun” and pistols robbed the cash registers at the restaurants as well as restaurant customers.
No one was injured in any of the incidents and no shots were fired, she said.
Campbell said Lindquist is charged in a total of 10 robberies, including seven in Oakland.
Shesaid Lindquist told her that he targeted Asian restaurants because they had a lot of customers.
Holmgren said Lindquist has previously arrested for several other incidents, including some thefts and acts of violence, including an assault on a police officer earlier this year.
Campbell said the person who gave the tip that led to Lindquist's arrest is in line for a reward if Lindquist is convicted and additional rewards could be handed if more people come forward with tips about the other suspects in the robberies.