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Police: Robbery Suspect killed in crash after victims fight back

A 29-year-old man suspected of joining a cohort in trying to rob a Hemet motorist was killed when the victim drove his vehicle into a ditch while fighting to get away, pinning the suspect against the side of the car, authorities said today.

Robert Lee Casas of Hemet was fatally injured shortly after 8 p.m. Thursday on Menlo Avenue, just west of North Cawston Avenue, according to the Hemet Police Department.

Lt. Nathan Miller alleged that Casas and 27-year-old Phillip David Campbell of Hemet confronted the driver, whose identity was not disclosed, and his friend, also not identified, as they sat in his car and spoke near an apartment complex. Casas and Campbell allegedly busted several windows on the car and then "demanded money from the victims," Miller said.

"During the struggle with the suspects, (the driver) put the car into gear and tried to get away," the lieutenant said. "The victim accelerated but quickly lost control and struck a drainage ditch. Casas, who was struggling with the driver during this time, sustained injuries when he was pinned between the ditch and the car."

The ditch has berms, and the suspect's body was jammed between the raised earthen structure and the vehicle, according to police.

Miller alleged that Campbell fled the location immediately after the crash. Hemet Fire Department personnel arrived within a few minutes and extricated Casas, who was taken to Riverside University Medical Center in Moreno Valley, where he died less than an hour later from catastrophic internal injuries.

The two victims suffered minor injuries and were treated at the scene by paramedics, Miller said. He said that Campbell was stopped in a vehicle not far from crash and taken into custody without incident.

The suspect was booked into the Hemet City Jail on suspicion of attempted robbery, and is expected to be transferred to a Riverside County detention facility. Bail information was not immediately available.

"While this investigation is still ongoing and far from being completed, at this time, neither victim is expected to face criminal charges following the unfortunate and senseless death of Robert Casas,'' Miller said.

Anyone with information was asked to contact investigators at 951-765-2396.

City News Service

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