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Teen Arrested In Lauderdale Lakes Restaurant Heist

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Surveillance image of La Granja restaurant robbery in process on March 28, 2014. (Source: BSO)

Surveillance image of La Granja restaurant robbery in process on March 28, 2014. (Source: BSO)

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South Florida Crime

LAUDERDALE LAKES (CBSMiami) —  A teen is behind bars, accused of taking part in a Lauderdale Lakes restaurant heist in which three hostages were taken.

This is the third arrest for the armed robbery.

The 17-year old was arrested on charges of robbery with a firearm, aggravated assault with a firearm, and kidnapping.

According to his arrest report, he allegedly worked directly with the group to take the hostages inside the restaurant and rob them of over $600, a cellphone, and a backpack.

BSO said he was identified at his high school and taken into custody. He confessed to the crime, according to his arrest report.

The armed robbery happened at “La Granja” restaurant on the evening of March 28. Just as the manager and three co-workers were about to leave — three gunmen rushed them.

“They were waiting outside for the manager who was closing up the restaurant when they were approached by three gunman,” explained BSO Spokeswoman Gina Carter.  “Two of them were holding hand guns, one was holding a shotgun.”

Employees were marched back into the restaurant.  Surveillance video showed one female employee taking cover behind the counter while a man patroled with a shot gun.  BSO believes that the man was Ralph Estelhomme.  They believe he was holding the employees hostage while the manager cleared out the safe.  “These men were holding these employees at gunpoint and threatening their lives,” said Carter.  “It was basically open the safe, give me the money or I’m going to kill you.

While one woman was hiding behind the counter, surveillance video showed she grabbed something from underneath and handed it over.  At one point, something appeared to frighten the gunmen and they took off running.  Estelhomme made it to a canal, not far from the restaurant.

A neighbor said he saw someone jump in the canal from the other side — trying to swim away from officers who were on his tail.  “He swim and come over to this side,” he said.

He didn’t get too far.  BSO was waiting for him.  According to investigators it didn’t take Estelhomme long before he confessed to the whole thing.

Lovekens Cherelus, 18, was also arrested in connection to the armed robbery.

Detectives believe he and his buddies are responsible for at least one other robbery  at a nearby Dollar General store.

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