MADERA, Calif. - Madera Police have identified a man suspected in four brazen robberies in just over a week. The heists have spanned from Fresno to Chowchilla.
Police are searching for John Barajas, 35. Officers say he was last spotted in downtown Fresno on Tuesday, but he may be headed for Arkansas.
Surveillance video shows the robbery inside Toby's Vape Shop in Madera on Monday. The robber is seen on surveillance video pulling out a gun, and then running behind the counter where he pins down the clerk and helps himself to cash.
"I couldn't believe it. This happened so close," said David Holbrook of Sushi Litto.
Holbrook works next door from Toby's Vape Shop. He couldn't believe police have connected Barajas to three other robberies in the Valley.
"Hopefully he doesn't come back," Holbrook said. "That's kind of scary. Wake up call."
The robberies began on Mothers day and are all very similar.
Police said Barajas held up Metro PCS on Kings Canyon, dragging the worker to the back of the store and robbing her.
On May 17, police said Barajas robbed Cricket Wireless in Madera, pulling a worker to the back of the store by her hair.
Then on May 19, police said Barajas hit up Subway in Chowchilla, taking two women to the back of the store and robbing them.
"Our biggest victim here is the employees and employers who are trying to make a living for their families and are now basically being terrorized," said Madera Police Lieutenant Gino Chiaramonte.
Police said they almost caught Barajas on Saturday when a Madera County Sheriff's Deputy spotted his car in Chowchilla and chased him, but Barajas got away.
Barajas has tattoos on his torso and a distinct tribal band on his forearms. Police said he has ties throughout the Valley from Sanger to Chowchilla.
Madera resident, Luis Garcia said local residents shouldn't be intimidated. "You shouldn't let stuff like this put you off from doing shopping or just being around a city like this," said Garcia.
Police said Barajas has been staying with friends and at various motels.
Barajas has prior convictions for assault with a deadly weapon and robbery, according to police.