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Armed robbers shoot at jewelry store owner
armed robbery pic
A Turlock Police officer interviews Efren Avila, owner of Universal Jewelers, moments after armed robbers shot at him inside his store. - photo by FRANKIE TOVAR / The Journal

Three masked men, who robbed the Universal Jewelers in downtown Turlock Thursday night, left the store amidst gunfire.

According to an eye witness, a van pulled up outside the jewelry store around 7 p.m. Thursday and three men dressed all in black, wearing masks and carrying duffel bags entered the store.

Universal Jewelers owner Lilia Avila said she was doing paperwork in the store when she heard screaming.

“I saw men rushing, coming closer and I saw that (they were) covered in black and had a gun and I hit the panic button,” she said.

Avila said one of the men told her to open the register, but before she could the man changed his mind and directed her teenage son to do it instead.

“I was panicking; I was screaming,” Avila said.

Lilia Avila’s husband, Efren Avila, was in the back of the store when he heard screaming and rushed to see what was happening.

Efren Avila said when the robbers saw him they were surprised and one man shot at him.

The eye witness, who was nearby, heard gun shots and saw the men run out of the store and get in the van and take off. She then called 911 to report the shooting.

“It was like something you see in a movie,” she said.

As the van was leaving, an employee of the business armed himself and shot at the fleeing robbers, according to Turlock Police.  The van was determined to have been reported stolen out of Oakland.

No one was shot during the incident, but the robbers broke the display cases in the store leaving glass all over the floor. Jewelry from the store was stolen during the incident.

Turlock Police Detectives are continuing their investigation and request that anyone with information contact Detective Brandon Bertram at 668-5550 ext. 6626.

The Turlock Police Department is an active participant in the Crime Stoppers Program. Callers can leave an anonymous tip by calling Crime Stoppers at 521-4636 and may be eligible for a cash reward.