Woman killed in robbery gone wrong at Fashion Island in Newport Beach

A tranquil summer afternoon at the upscale Fashion Island mall in Newport Beach disintegrated into violence Tuesday, with a woman killed after a botched robbery attempt.

Two men accosted the 69-year-old woman and her husband close to the Barnes & Noble bookstore at the mall, authorities said. Shots were fired, but police said no one was struck by bullets.

The couple had been walking at Fashion Island when they were approached by the two men, who attempted to rob them, according to Sgt. Steven Oberon of the Newport Beach Police Department.

A struggle ensued, and the woman was dragged into a parking lot and subsequently run over by the suspects’ white Toyota Camry. Oberon said the woman’s husband was believed to be uninjured.

The victims were not immediately identified.

Police pursued the suspects after the incident, a chase that took them into Los Angeles County. Authorities reported that the Camry reached speeds of up to 110 mph as it sped north. A television news helicopter captured video of the car speeding into the left shoulder of the 105 Freeway and at one point grazing the concrete center median.

During the pursuit, the getaway driver allegedly let at least one accomplice out before he and another man sped on. The pair eventually jumped out of the car in South Gate, fleeing on foot around Harding and Hoover avenues, according to police and video of the chase shown on multiple local TV news stations.

News footage showed one bare-chested man being taken into custody minutes after he jumped from the driver’s side of the car. Eventually, three suspects were taken into custody.

The shooting occurred just after 3:30 p.m. Tuesday at what is known as a usually peaceful shopping center, which sits on a bluff above the ocean in the wealthy coastal community.

The Newport Beach Fire Department said it found a person dead in the parking lot adjacent to the bookstore.

Authorities notified nearby residents around 4 p.m. to avoid the shopping plaza as they investigated the incident. Police were seen on site guiding the public to safety, and helicopters were flying overhead.

A woman who was shopping in the area on Tuesday described the situation as a “hullabaloo.” She said she was from Los Angeles and was thankful that police responded quickly. She declined to give her name.

A young man who asked not to be identified said he was at Cucina enoteca in Fashion Island when the incident occurred.

“About 20 people were running and screaming, ‘Someone’s shooting!’ They locked us in the restaurant,” he said.

“This doesn’t happen in Newport Beach,” Mayor Will O’Neill told KCAL-9 News. “Fashion Island is an incredibly safe place. This is a tragedy, and I’m furious.”

City News Service contributed to this report. Winton and Rainey are Times staff writers. Nguyen and Hoffman are staff writers for the Daily Pilot, a sister publication of The Times.

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