Shootout at the Otay Ranch

April 7, 2011, 6:42 PM UTC

A gun battle in a California Apple Store leaves one suspect dead — a first for Apple

Image: CBS 8, San Diego

At 6:45 a.m. Monday, according to police, two armed men smashed the glass door of the Otay Ranch Apple Store in Chula Vista, Calif., and came upon the store manager and a security guard. One of the suspects pulled out a pistol and began shooting. The guard, who was armed, returned fire.

In the ensuing gun battle, some 40 shots were exchanged. The suspects, still shooting, ran to a car and sped off. But the car smashed into a pole in the shopping mall parking lot. A man and a woman fled the car, leaving the driver, who died on the spot with a bullet wound to the head.

According to, it was the first gunfight in an Apple Store and the first fatality, although an Apple (AAPL) store employee was shot and wounded during a 2009 robbery attempt in Virginia.

Police identified the dead man as Alex Somphonh Choulamountry, 23, a known gang member on parole with a rap sheet that included convictions for theft, drug possession and driving under the influence.

A second suspect, identified by police as Johnny Chenda, 25, was captured a few hours later and charged Wednesday with six counts, including attempted murder, conspiracy to commit a crime, assault with a deadly weapon, burglary, attempted robbery and felony possession of a firearm. The woman who accompanied the two male suspects was taken into custody but not charged with a crime.

Apple Stores, with their high profiles and big glass windows, make tempting targets for would-be burglars, especially with products like the iPhone 4 and iPad 2 in short supply and fetching high premiums in the gray market. At least 14 Apple retail outlets have been burglarized in the past three years, some of them more than once. On Tuesday, an Apple Store in Naperville, Ill., was hit for the third time since September, according to the
Chicago Tribune

According to USA Today, the FBI has taken an interest in the rash of burglaries and is assisting local law enforcement authorities in their investigations.

For more, on the Otay Ranch shoot-out, check out the news report from CBS-8 TV in San Diego. The event was captured on Apple’s security cameras, but that video has not been released.

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[Follow Philip Elmer-DeWitt on Twitter @philiped]