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Reported Carjacking Leads to Standoff and Arrest in Hemet

Hemet PD photo from the 900 block of East Whittier Avenue, Hemet, Calif., Jan. 19, 2014.
Hemet PD photo from the 900 block of East Whittier Avenue, Hemet, Calif., Jan. 19, 2014.
A reported carjacking Sunday in Hemet led to a standoff in the 900 block of East Whittier Avenue and the arrest of a suspect, a Hemet police lieutenant said.

Hemet police dispatch received a 9-1-1 call about 10:50 a.m. Jan. 19 from someone reporting an attempted robbery that had just occurred in the parking lot of a bank in the 1100 block of East Florida Avenue, Lt. Eric Dickson said in a statement.

"The victim advised that the suspect was armed with a handgun and that he had just stolen another victim's vehicle," Dickson said. "The suspect fled the scene in the stolen vehicle at a high rate of speed and was last seen in the area of Santa Fe St. and Acacia Ave."

Responding officers learned the suspect had allegedly "brandished a handgun at the first victim, demanded money, and when the first victim did not give him any, the suspect got into the passenger seat of a vehicle that was in the drive thru ATM line," Dickson said.

The suspect then allegedly pointed a handgun at the driver of the vehicle and demanded money from him, Dickson said.

"This second victim was unable to give the suspect any money so the suspect forced him out of the vehicle and drove away," Dickson said.

The victims were not injured during the incident, Dickson said. Officers were initially unable to locate the suspect or the stolen vehicle.

Shortly after 12:30 p.m., a resident called dispatch to report a subject matching the suspect description, moving a vehicle that matched the stolen vehicle description into a garage in the 900 block of East Whittier, Dickson said.

"Hemet police officers converged on the area and saw a subject run into one of the apartments," Dickson said. "The subject began barricading the apartment and the officers established a perimeter and began evacuating nearby residents."

The Hemet-Murrieta SWAT Team was called out as well as the City of Hemet Detective Bureau, Dickson said.

"A section of Whittier Ave. was closed down and residents were evacuated to safety while officers attempted to get the people in the apartment to surrender through verbal negotiations," Dickson said.

One suspect eventually surrendered and another suspect forced  his way into an adjoining apartment and tried to flee through a window, Dickson said. The second suspect was taken into custody a short distance away.

Police got a search warrant and members of the Hemet-Murrieta SWAT Team went into two apartments and a garage, Dickson said. No additional suspects were located. The stolen vehicle was found as well as additional stolen property.

"The investigation is still ongoing and investigators are attempting to determine if the suspect that surrendered was involved with the robberies," Dickson said.

The man who was arrested was identified as Bryan Nighswonger, 28, of Menifee. He was booked on suspicion of robbery and carjacking, Dickson said. His bail Sunday was $60,000.

Anyone with more info was urged to call Hemet police at (951) 765-2400.

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