San Diego police and a victim revealed new details Thursday about two harrowing carjackings, during which a baseball coach wrestled a gun away from an armed suspect and a 79-year-old woman rolled out of her car to escape.
Investigators released surveillance images of the "extremely dangerous" suspect who they say kidnapped three people in two carjackings on Wednesday.
At about 10 a.m., the unknown man encountered a 28-year-old baseball coach and 16-year-old student at Hickman Field in Kearny Mesa. Brandishing a handgun, he forced the duo into the coach's Jeep Latitude and ordered them to drive him to Ramona, according to SDPD Robbery Unit Commander Todd Griffin.
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With the coach in the driver’s seat, the teen in the front passenger seat and the suspect in the back, they drove until they reached the mountains near Ramona. Not liking his chances for escape and fearing for his student’s life, the coach decided to make a brash move.
He lunged back at the suspect and grabbed his gun, Griffin said. As they struggled over the weapon, two shots were fired into the roof and the Jeep veered off the road, crashing at San Vicente and Wildcat Canyon roads in Ramona. The coach told the teen to run as he held the suspect at gunpoint.
The victim fired two shots at the suspect’s feet, Griffin said, and the suspect ran away, bleeding from his forehead and hand and holding his leg.
At that point, 79-year-old Barbara Roulier saw the bloodied suspect emerge from the woods near the crash. He was trying to wave down a driver.
“He tries two cars in front of me to get them to help and he's saying, 'Help, help,’" she recalled. “And I see blood and I'd have to tell you, the first thing that came to me was the name Samaritan, and I had to help him.”
When she pulled next to the man, she told him to get into her car. He said he was shot and had to get to the hospital. Roulier described him as very distraught, so she said she was praying for him, trying to calm him down.
He responded by telling her not to do anything dumb. With his hand in his pocket, he pointed toward her like he had a weapon.
“He said 'Take a left,' and he said, ‘You got to get me off this mountain and avoid the roadblocks and please don’t jump out of the car. Please don’t do anything dumb. Please I don’t want to hurt you,’” Roulier recounted. “He repeated that over and over, which was assuring to me because I felt I made enough rapport with him that if there were a gun, he wouldn't shoot me.”
They drove together for about 20 minutes. But as she neared a shopping center on Main Street, Roulier knew what she had to do. She said she heard a voice telling her to jump.
“I said, ‘Take my car,’ and then I heard, ‘Jump!’ And I had my seat belt loose, and of course the car’s all locked, and I had my eye on where I had to get that door unlocked, and [I] flew, just tucked and rolled and rolled out, this elderly woman here,” Roulier said, laughingly referring to herself. Her kids are now calling the move a “granny tuck.”
The suspect took off in her car. Detectives searching for the stolen vehicle found it Wednesday at the parking lot of Barona Casino off of Wildcat Canyon Road.
According to Griffin, security video shows the suspect leaving the car, tapping on the window of another man’s vehicle and striking up a conversation. He then got into the man’s vehicle, and the two drove away together.
Using the man’s license plates, detectives tracked down the driver and asked him about his encounter with the suspect. He told them the suspect had paid him $40 to drive him back to San Diego. He dropped the suspect off on Clairemont Mesa Boulevard, but not before they stopped at a 7-Eleven because the suspect said he was thirsty.
As he bought a bottle of water, he was caught on surveillance cameras, which police copied and made public on Thursday.
The man is still on the loose. Police say he is considered "extremely dangerous," and if you know anything about him or his whereabouts, call the SDPD at 619-531-2000.
Roulier told NBC 7 in San Diego that if he is caught, the suspect will hear from her again.
"I will be in touch with him," she said. "He will get a letter from me when they find him and he has to face the charges and he will learn about a different kind of love. There's a reason we met. He will not get away. He will not escape making peace with God."