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FAMILIES EVACUATED PRIOR TO 5 ARRESTS

Sixteen families were evacuated from their northeast Orem apartments at 5:30 a.m. Friday before Orem Public Safety officers took into custody five people, including one who was wanted in California on a warrant for armed robbery. Information received by Orem officers indicated the five were armed and dangerous.

After removing the families from surrounding residences, officers led by Ted Peacock, director of public safety, surrounded a duplex at 361 E. Sixth North, and ordered the five individuals to come out. Capt. Gerald Nielsen said the people did come out of the apartment after several minutes and were taken into custody. Officers later removed a pistol and a small amount of marijuana from the apartment.Nielsen said the people - four males and one female in their late teens or early 20s - are believed to be associated with a West Coast Oriental gang.

Viengxay O. Phimmachack, 18, Fresno, California, is charged with six counts of armed robbery, and will be extradited to California, Nielsen said. Orem officers are working with California police to identify the other people in custody.

Nielsen said that according to the charges against Phimmachack, he and several other individuals entered businesses and homes in the Fresno area with shotguns and robbed them while people were present. In one business robbery, shots were fired and several people inside the business were wounded.

The families that were evacuated were taken to a nearby church. They were allowed to return to their homes shortly after 6:30 a.m.