EX-POLICE VOLUNTEER IN CUSTODY : TWO OTHER ROBBERY SUSPECTS STILL AT LARGE.
As a teen-ager, James Wells volunteered summers at the San Fernando Police Department. Filing, collating, assisting clerks in the records unit, Wells did everything he could to help.
Now at the age of 22, Wells is back at the station - this time behind bars.
On Tuesday, Wells walked into the Los Angeles Police Department's Van Nuys Division, identified himself as a fugitive suspected of armed robbery and then surrendered.
The Pacoima man is one of three men accused of taking at gunpoint $400 from the owner of a San Fernando paging business last week. They managed to escape from officers after a spectacular car chase during which they crashed.
In an interview with the Daily News last week, Wells vowed to surrender, saying, ``I ain't got nowhere to run.''
His mother, Marie Wells, and girlfriend, Courtney Osborn, mother of their 2-year-old daughter, said they now are relieved that his arrest did not involve a confrontation with police.
``I just wish they all would've did it together, hand in hand, but I'm not going to worry about them. My son's all right,'' said his mother, choking back tears in a telephone interview soon after her son's arrest.
Los Angeles police turned Wells over to police in San Fernando, where the crime occurred. He was arrested on suspicion of armed robbery and assault with a deadly weapon. Wells is being held in lieu of $240,000 bail and is set to be arraigned today in Van Nuys Municipal Court.
Police continue to hunt for Johnny Ray Fisher Jr., 19, and Lewis Greenwood III, 21, both of Pacoima.
San Fernando police Detective Robert Jacobs, the head investigator on the case, encouraged the fugitives to give themselves up.
``The safest place for them is in our custody, for their safety and the officers' safety,'' he said. ``If they get caught on the street, that's an uncontrollable situation.''
That's exactly why Wells' mother and girlfriend urged him to surrender.
Before turning himself in, Wells and Osborn, 20, lunched on hot wings at a fast-food restaurant. As a going-away present he gave her back the jersey she had previously picked out for him.
``He asked me not to cry, and he tried not to cry,'' Osborn said. ``I'm actually relieved that he won't get hurt, but I'm sad that he had to go. I wish that none of this ever happened.''
Jacobs said he can't help but feel saddened by the recent unfortunate turn of events in Wells' life.
``You always feel you have a bond and kind of hope that you're giving them a role model, or a pathway to the future showing them what's out there,'' he said. ``And then it's a disappointment to find out they didn't follow that example, that they went the other way.
``When you see them in high school you always hope these kids have a bright, shiny future. It didn't take him that long to screw his up.''
Marie Wells said her son liked volunteering at the station - that is, until local kids started teasing him about working with police and questioned his allegiance.
``They said he was a snitch, so he didn't want to go back there,'' she said. ``The officer said he was real good, but he didn't believe it. You know how some kids follow behind other kids.''
PHOTO (1) James Wells
Robbery suspect surrenders
(2) Johnny Ray Fisher Jr.
Being sought by police
(3) Lewis Greenwood III
Wanted after armed holdup