REDWOOD CITY -- "Let's try this again, (expletive)," a man wielding a silver revolver reportedly said to three surprised workers sitting in the office of a San Mateo pet store on an October night in 2011.

The robber had been thwarted by a hero manager at the same shop during an attempted holdup two months earlier and was back, prosecutors say.

Before the second robbery was over, that same manager had a gunshot wound and was fighting for his life.

These were among the deluge of details to emerge Thursday at the third day of the preliminary hearing in San Mateo County Superior Court on the evidence against Ricky Renee Sanders, 35, of Oakland. He faces 37 felonies in connection with a robbery spree that spanned San Mateo, San Francisco and Santa Clara counties, prosecutors say. He's charged with 11 Peninsula and at least four South Bay hold ups.

Sanders, who was dubbed the "chrome revolver bandit" for his alleged preferred weapon, is being held without bail in San Mateo County. He has pleaded not guilty and faces a maximum penalty of life behind bars if convicted.

San Mateo Police Detective Shannon Hagan testified that he arrived at the PetSmart store on South El Camino Real on Oct. 8, 2011, minutes after the shooting. He found the store manager lying on the floor, his wounded leg was wrapped in a bloody cloth. The manager was repeating himself, gripping the officer's arm and shaking.

"He was in shock. If he didn't get help he was going to die," said Hagan, who pinched the wounded man's femoral artery to slow the heavy bleeding.

Before the manager was rushed to Stanford Hospital, though, he told Hagan that the shooter, before firing a single bullet, said: "(Expletive) you. This is for last time."

The "last time" referred to the attempted robbery of the same PetSmart on Aug. 7, 2011. In that holdup, the assailant grabbed a clerk from behind and jabbed a silver revolver into her side. As he did so, the suspect demanded that the manager fill a cloth Trader Joe's grocery store bag with cash.

The quick-thinking manager told the robber the pet store was under video surveillance. It was a lie; there were no cameras. But the "bluff," as it was described by defense attorney John Elworth, worked. The gunman let go of the clerk, looked briefly for cameras and ran off without taking the money.

Deputy district attorney Morris Maya said the assailant came back almost exactly two months later.

During that robbery, the suspect surprised three workers, including the same manager, in a store office. In a chilling remark, the suspect allegedly said, "He's back," referring to himself. Moments later the suspect forced the manager to get the cash and pistol-whipped one of the workers.

It was not long after that, when the gunman was walking out of the store, he raised the weapon, which the manager recognized, and fired.

The manager survived the bullet, which clipped his femoral artery and did not testify Thursday.

The alleged robber's run came to a sudden end with his arrest on Nov. 7, 2011, about a week after a fingerprint left at a holdup in San Jose led to him, prosecutors say.

Sanders is a parolee with two previous strikes to his credit.

He's accused of robbing stores in Daly City, Colma, Redwood City, Menlo Park, Pacifica, San Bruno, San Mateo and San Carlos between February and October 2011, prosecutors said.

The preliminary hearing before San Mateo Superior Court Judge Clifford Cretan is expected to continue Friday morning.

Contact Joshua Melvin at 650-348-4335. Follow him at Twitter.com/melvinreport.