Authorities investigate 9 Valley hotel robberies

FRESNO, Calif.

Investigators now wonder if the same suspects were involved in nine different robberies in three separate counties over the Labor Day weekend.

On Saturday, two businesses were hit in Fresno. The Holiday Inn in Selma was robbed on Sunday and minutes later, the Kingsburg Fairfield Marriott was targeted. Five more robberies happened in Coalinga, Santa Nella and Patterson from Monday night to Tuesday morning.

The images captured by surveillance video in two of the incidents show what appeared to be the same three or four suspects involved.

Sometimes three masked men appear, sometimes two as well as what looks like a smaller female wearing a hooded sweatshirt.

In Fresno County, sheriff's detectives are investigating two new hotel hold-ups they believe could be linked to a recent string of robberies in the Valley.

The first occurred just before 10 o'clock Monday night at the travel lodge on Dorris Avenue in Coalinga. Deputies told Action News, multiple masked men and possibly a woman entered the hotel with a gun and demanded cash.

"One of the suspects approached the clerk," said Fresno County Sgt. Kent Matsuzaki. "He ordered them to the ground, one of them jumped the counter and the other two came through another entrance."

He said the suspects were gone in a matter of seconds with hundreds of dollars in cash. Then about a half an hour later deputies responded to another armed robbery, this time at the best western on Panoche Road west of Mendota.

A detective said two of the suspects hit the clerk when they thought she wasn't cooperating with them.

"They came around the corner, pulled out the petty cash and took the clerk to the back," said Deputy Mike Quintanilla. "There was a safe there. They demanded she open the safe, but she didn't have the combination and they struck her once with a fist."

He said, the clerk then stalled and a second suspect came over and struck her one more time. At one point, one of the suspects yelled to the others they needed to leave the lobby right away. The clerk suffered minor injuries, but refused medical treatment.

A similar scenario was captured on surveillance video Monday night at Hotel Mission de Oro in Santa Nella. Owner Stephen St. Clair said he was in the back office when he heard what sounded like a stack of papers hit the floor. When he came out, he found the front clerk badly shaken.

"It was a matter of seconds and not minutes," he said.

He also said the suspects appeared to match the same description given at another hotel hit in the same town the same night, as well as hotel in Patterson early Tuesday morning.

St. Clair said, a witness reported seeing a silver Dodge Avenger leaving the scene. The suspects are described as African-American males ranging from 5 feet 8 inches tall to six feet tall, as well as a petite African-American female.

Law enforcement agencies said they're now working together to find the suspects. They said they already have a number of leads.

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