Botched Hemet robbery ends in death of one suspect, arrest of second man

HEMET, Calif., — Authorities in Hemet say a botched robbery attempt ended with one would-be robber dead and another in custody Thursday evening, Oct. 7. Two intended victims managed to escape serious injury during the violent and deadly confrontation, which happened on the dirt road portion of West Menlo Avenue; west of N. Cawston Avenue.

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City of Hemet police officers were dispatched to the area shortly after 8 p.m. after receiving reports of an attempted robbery that had just occurred, Hemet Police Lieutenant Nate Miller has since said of the fatal encounter.

When officers arrived they found a man crushed and pinned between a vehicle and a drainage ditch adjacent to the dirt road.

One would-be robber was killed and another later arrested after a botched robbery attempt in Hemet Thursday night. Hemet Crime Society photo

Hemet Firefighters and paramedics were quickly able to free the critically injured man and rushed him to a nearby trauma center via ground ambulance. However, despite life saving efforts, the man succumbed to his injuries and passed away a short time later.

Miller said the deceased suspect has since been identified as 29-year-old Robert Lee Casas of Hemet. At the time of his death he was wanted on a felony warrant related to a 2019 case for being under the influence of a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia.

The two victims suffered cuts and bruises consistent with being attacked during the incident and were treated by medical professionals at the scene. Both are expected to make full recoveries and are cooperating with investigators, according to Miller.

During their subsequent investigation officers interviewed two male victims who told them that they were talking in a car while parked on the west Menlo portion of the dirt road

The two adults, one from Hemet and one from San Jacinto whose names have not been released, told investigators that while they were sitting inside the car and talking, Casas and another man, since identified as Philip David Campbell, 27, also from Hemet, arrived in a second vehicle and approached the two victims as they sat inside their vehicle.

Approaching from both sides of the victim’s car, Casas and Campbell suddenly broke out the windows of the victim’s car and demanded money from the victims, but both men began to fight back against the two suspects.

During the ensuing violent struggle with the suspects, the victim in the driver’s seat attempted to flee from the area and put the car in gear and accelerated, but quickly lost control and crashed into the drainage ditch.

“Casas, who had been struggling with the driver during this time, sustained his injuries when he was pinned
between the ditch and the car,” Miller explained. “The second suspect, who was leaning into the car and struggling with the second victim when this happened, promptly abandoned the robbery attempt and fled the scene in a vehicle he and Casas had previously arrived in.”

Based on the information gathered at the scene of the fatal robbery attempt, detectives were able to identify Campbell and soon found his vehicle on Mayberry Street in Hemet, where they took him into custody without incident a short time later.

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Campbell, who was uninjured during the attempted robbery, was later booked into the Cois Byrd Detention Center in Murrieta on suspicion of attempted robbery and criminal conspiracy. He could also face additional charges.

Riverside County Superior Court records indicate Campbell was arrested in 2013 after a bar fight and charged with assault with a deadly weapon likely to result in great bodily injury and brandishing a weapon. He ultimately pleaded guilty to disturbing the peace, a misdemeanor, and was granted one-year summary probation that ended the following year.

“While this investigation is still ongoing and far from being completed, at this time, neither victim is expected to face criminal charges following the unfortunate and senseless death of Robert Casas,” said Miller.

If you witnessed this incident or have any information regarding this investigation, detectives would like to speak with you and anyone with information is urged to immediately contact Sergeant Gabe Gomez at (951) 765-2396 or by email. As always, anonymous tips are always accepted.



Contact the writer: trevor.rcns@gmail.com

Trevor Montgomery, 50, moved in 2017 to the Intermountain area of Shasta County from Riverside County and runs Riverside County News Source (RCNS) and Shasta County News Source (SCNS).

Additionally, he writes or has written for several other news organizations; including Riverside County-based newspapers Valley News, Valley Chronicle, Anza Valley Outlook, and Hemet & San Jacinto Chronicle; the Bonsall/Fallbrook Village News in San Diego County; and Mountain Echo in Shasta County. He is also a regular contributor to Thin Blue Line TV and Law Enforcement News Network and has had his stories featured on news stations throughout the Southern California and North State regions.

Trevor spent 10 years in the U.S. Army as an Orthopedic Specialist before joining the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department in 1998. He was medically retired after losing his leg, breaking his back, and suffering both spinal cord and brain injuries in an off-duty accident. (Click here to see segment of Discovery Channel documentary of Trevor’s accident.)

During his time with the sheriff’s department, Trevor worked at several different stations; including Robert Presley Detention Center, Southwest Station in Temecula, Hemet/Valle Vista Station, Ben Clark Public Safety Training Center, and Lake Elsinore Station; along with other locations.

Trevor’s assignments included Corrections, Patrol, DUI Enforcement, Boat and Personal Water-Craft based Lake Patrol, Off-Road Vehicle Enforcement, Problem Oriented Policing Team, and Personnel/Background Investigations. He finished his career while working as a Sex Crimes and Child Abuse Investigator and was a court-designated expert in child abuse and child sex-related crimes.

Trevor has been married for more than 30 years and was a foster parent to more than 60 children over 13 years. He is now an adoptive parent and his “fluid family” includes 13 children and 18 grandchildren.

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