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Police Seek Robbery, Assault Suspects

Two of three suspects in June knife robbery remain at large.

Authorities are searching the region for two men charged with robbery and malicious wounding in connection with a series of June incidents in the parking lot of the Cedar Lane Shopping Center in southwest Vienna.

Vienna police arrested Wilson Perez, 18, of Springfield, one of three men charged in the June 10 incidents on the evening of Aug. 25 after police responded to tips from witnesses to the crime, who spotted him in the Cedar Lane Shopping Center. The two other suspects, Walter Martinez, 23, of Vienna and Jose Ayala, 25, of Centreville remain at large.

Vienna Police identified the three suspects last week as a result of witness testimony and investigations into an attempted break-in of a car and the wounding and robbery of a man outside of a restaurant in the shopping center June 10, according to police. The men, known to be regular patrons of the shopping center, were identified by Vienna gang investigators as suspected members of the street gang MS-13, according to the police.

All three have been charged with one felony count each of malicious wounding and robbery. Malicious wounding carries a sentence of 20 years to life with robbery carrying a sentence of five years to life, according to Vienna police spokesman Bill Murray.

"We’ve been periodically checking the area for the men and relying on our witnesses to contact us if they spot the men in the future," Murray said. "We are continuing to work with other jurisdictions to identify these men as suspects in these crimes if they are located elsewhere."

POLICE RESPONDED to the shopping center in the early morning hours of June 10 in response to a call from a shopping center security guard. During the course of his duties that morning, the security guard came across three Hispanic males in their late teens and 20s attempting to break into a car, according to the report.

When the security guard gave chase, one of the men confronted him with a knife, allowing the three to escape. When police arrived to the scene they found another man who said that he was attacked and robbed by three men in the parking lot as he left the restaurant. The man had suffered non-life threatening injuries to his head and face, the report added.

"It was a whole bunch of things that went on all at one time that night," Murray said. "I think it was a crime of opportunity … and the individuals, as far as we know, were known to the victims."

While the wounding and robbery are serious crimes, the incident could have become much more serious, he added.

"Obviously the security guard could have been injured with the knife, and they are armed guards so that could have escalated," Murray said. "We obviously need to still find the rest of these guys and we’re going to saturate the area and do what we can to pick them up."

The robbery was the fourth so far this year to be reported in Vienna, according to police records. Vienna Police investigated 12 robberies in 2006, up from four the previous year, according to crime statistics.