The big break for Santa Maria Police in tracking a string of armed robberies came after a holdup at the La Guelaguetza neighborhood market on Thornburg Street last weekend.
Detectives were able to arrest and charge David Wilkerson, along with two other juveniles, in connection with the armed robbery along with other charges.
It didn’t take long for Santa Maria Police to realize David Wilkerson had given them the wrong name after he was arrested and booked into county jail.
“We started working that late Saturday and early Sunday morning and we developed more leads, some arrests were made and include the subject who identified himself with a last name of Wilkerson”, says SMPD Sgt. Danny Rios, “anytime somebody is booked in our station or the county jail, we run them through an electronic live fingerprint scan process and that goes to the state and then back to us and then we realized he had given a false name.”
SMPD says Wilkerson’s true identity is Lovell McKellop and he’s now been charged with felony providing a false identity in addition to armed robbery and other charges.
“It doesn’t go undetected very often”, Sgt. Rios says about McKellop’s arrest and initial false name, “unfortunately when someone is arrested and when they have no ID on them, when they haven’t been booked before, we don’t have mugshots to compare, we do rely on that live scan process, that’s why its done.”
Local residents were relieved to learn arrests had been made in the recent string of armed robberies.
“I go to that store (La Guelaguetza) all the time, I mean I would hate if my kids were close when another robbery happened”, says Thornburg Street resident Isabel Perez, “I don’t want my kids to be around this kind of activity, I live right across the street so if anything were to happen its as easy as someone coming and jumping my fence.”
Santa Maria Police say their investigation into the string of armed robberies remains wide open as detectives try to find out of McKellop and the two other juveniles are responsible for any of the other armed robberies in the city that have taken place in the past two weeks.
“As the case continues and evidence builds you may see the people already arrested have additional charges added and more people arrested for the related robberies”, Sgt. Rios says.