ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Police on Sunday were searching for at least two more suspects they believe killed a teenage worker during a robbery at a packed Denny's and committed 10 more armed robberies in Albuquerque this past year.
Two suspects were arrested within minutes of the crime Saturday on suspicion of murder, kidnapping, robbery and child abuse because there were at least five children in the restaurant, Albuquerque Police Officer Nadine Hamby said.
Hamby said the men who were arrested are in their late 20s to early 30s and are from South America, but she did not know where specifically. She said police were working with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to verify the men's identities.
Hamby said at least four masked men with rifles and handguns rushed into the northwest Albuquerque Denny's around 9:30 a.m. Saturday and demanded money.
A teenage female employee was fatally shot during the robbery. Police have not yet identified her.
One restaurant employee told police a manager was forced to open the cash register and the robbers took an undetermined amount of cash.
Hamby said police believe the men committed 10 similar robberies in the Albuquerque area in the past year, but no one was shot in those incidents. She would not provide further details.
She said about 35 detectives, who were in the area as part of a special operation targeting robberies, responded to the restaurant and found two of the suspects quickly.
Hamby said police were trying to help the roughly 100 people who were in the restaurant at the time get any emotional or psychological help they may need.
"They've been through a traumatic experience," she said.
Witnesses described the scene inside the restaurant as chaotic, with people getting down on the floor when they heard a bang.
"Four masked men came in with guns," customer Brian Thompson told KRQE News in Albuquerque. "Two went toward the back. That's all we could see because we all hit the ground."