ESCONDIDO, Calif. -- A teenager accused of raping and robbing a woman inside an Escondido business and fleeing in her SUV was after attempting another holdup several hours later, police said.
Police identified the suspect as 18-year-old Hugo Elmer Garcia.
The victim reported being sexually assaulted, then robbed at gunpoint inside Family Accessories, a small store at 1690 East Valley Parkway around 5:15 p.m. After the attack, Garcia allegedly stole a white and tan 2000 Ford Expedition.
"At some point, the suspect may have taken the victim's key and left in her vehicle," Escondido police Lt. Chris Wynn said.
News of the crime spread through the neighborhood quickly.
"I hope that girl was OK, because there was no money there," witness Laura Trujillo said. "I don't know why this happened."
"You don't expect it to happen right here, right where you live," witness Anthony Purta said.
Officers fanned out through the city and searched for the robber for about four hours before getting a report of an attempted armed holdup of two pedestrians a short distance from the site of the earlier crimes, Lt. Chris Wynn said.
One of the victims told police she was leaving her workplace in the 1500 Block of East Valley Parkway with a friend when a man with a gun tried to rob them. Instead of complying with the thief, the victims ran off and made an emergency call.
"The (robber) left the area driving a vehicle that matched the description of the vehicle taken in the earlier robbery and sexual assault,'' the lieutenant said.
Minutes later, patrol personnel spotted the stolen SUV parked in a lot off Beech Street, near the scene of the failed pedestrian holdup, with Garcia sitting inside it. Officers detained the suspect, who was allegedly carrying a loaded gun, and all three victims identified him as the alleged perpetrator of the spree of crimes.
Garcia was booked into Vista Jail on suspicion of rape, robbery, burglary, kidnapping, auto theft and carrying a loaded firearm in public.
He was being held without bail pending arraignment, scheduled for Monday afternoon.