Breaking news

A Columbia store clerk was sent to a local hospital after being physically assaulted by two suspects on Saturday night, who were later apprehended, following a chase with police. 

Steven Ray Vargas, 39, of Nashville has been identified as one of two suspects in the Saturday aggravated robbery of Columbia’s  La Superior Bakery & Grocery.

Vargas was charged with aggravated robbery and is being held at the Maury County Jail without bond. He also faces charges of unlawful possession of a firearm, resisting arrest, driving under the influence and possession of cocaine for resale and possession of unlawful drug paraphernalia from other active warrants for his arrest, Lt. Jeremy Haywood told The Daily Herald on Tuesday morning.

Arnaldo Cruz,  34, of La Vergne was identified as the second suspect by the Columbia Police Department Tuesday evening.

Cruz faces charges of especially aggravated robbery, aggravated assault and felony evading arrest.

The Columbia Police Department confirmed officers responded to an aggravated robbery at the grocery store located at 2213 Carmack Boulevard at approximately 10:30 p.m. on Saturday.

A news release shared by the department said two men entered the store and brandished a firearm before physically assaulting a store clerk while taking an undisclosed amount of cash from a store register. 

The two then fled the scene in a black pickup truck.

The injured clerk was transported to Maury Regional Medical Center, where he was treated for his injuries. He has since been released from the hospital’s care.

Search ends in car chase

The department said the responding officers were able to identify and locate the offenders’ vehicle as it fled the scene traveling north on Carmack Boulevard.

“This was a good observant effort on patrol officers’ part,” Lt. Jeremy Haywood told The Daily Herald. “He saw the vehicle pass matching the description shared by dispatch. When he turned around to investigate, they fled.”

Officers attempted to stop the vehicle, but the suspects attempted to flee.

The officers pursued the vehicle a short distance, about one mile, to Columbia’s Cemetery Avenue, where the vehicle overturned. 

“The vehicle ran off the road way and onto its side,” Haywood said.

Standoff leads to surrender

Responding officers secured a perimeter surrounding the crash site and began to negotiate the surrender of the two offenders.

After approximately 15 minutes of negotiations, CPD said the offenders’ vehicle caught fire, causing both offenders to exit the vehicle. At that point, the two were safely taken into custody by multiple officers.

“It took some time for them to exit the vehicle,” Haywood said. “It was a successful job by the officers being patient. No one was injured. No violence occurred at that time. “

After being evaluated for injuries, the two suspects were then transported to the Columbia Police Department for interviews with the city’s criminal investigations division.

Columbia police said neither offender had any form of identification on them at the time of their arrest, and both refused to cooperate or provide a statement to confirm their identity.

Anyone with additional information that may assist in this investigation is encouraged to contact the Criminal Investigations Division of Columbia Police Department at 931-560-1670, Columbia Police Department Dispatch (24 hours) at 931-388-2727, Maury County Crimestoppers at 931-381-4900, or Columbia Police SAFE Tip Email to        

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