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‘Blue Cloth Bandit’ has been arrested


A man dubbed the “Blue Cloth Bandit” for his alleged habit of using a cloth to cover a handgun during a string of more than five dozen robberies over a span of nearly two years has been taken into custody.

Charles Chukwuma Onwuemelie, 29, of Quartz Hill was arrested at his residence on Sept. 25, and is being held on $1.4 million bail, according to the Los Angeles Police Department and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

Since October 2021 there have been 68 armed robberies of businesses “attributed by investigators to the same suspect,” an LAPD statement said.

“The robberies have occurred throughout Los Angeles County and the city of Los Angeles,” police said.

“During their investigation … detectives discovered that the suspect commonly used a blue cloth to cover the handgun used in the robberies that occurred at gas stations, 7-Elevens and Walmarts,” police said. “The suspect would conceal himself by wearing different hats, a face mask and rubber gloves.”

According to police, the same vehicle was involved in many of the robberies, and the same suspect was linked to the series of crimes “based on several factors.”

“When the suspect struck again on Friday, Sept. 23, detectives formulated a plan, initiated surveillance and ultimately served a search and arrest warrant.”

Onwuemelie was arrested at his residence and evidence linking him to the robberies was also recovered at the scene, including a firearm, police said.

Anyone with information about the case was urged to call LAPD Robbery-Homicide Division Detective Esther Myape at (213) 486-6840. Tipsters may also call Crime Stoppers at (800) 222-TIPS.