Theft spirals into melee
An apparent car stereo theft evolved bizarrely Friday into a rolling melee down Highway 20 before citizens at the Penn Valley scene were able to foil the alleged attempt at an assault and getaway.
Nevada County Sheriff’s Sgt. Tim Werner said two Marysville men were arrested on a number of felony charges after passersby saw the disturbance and ran them down.
The series of events began about 12:30 p.m., when Alecia Sanchez, 32, of Penn Valley, was driving by the Park and Ride lot at Highway 20 and Pleasant Valley Road after picking up her children from school. Sanchez said she saw two men inside her brother-in-law’s car with the doors open and drove onto the lot to confront them.
“I said, ‘What are your doing?’ and I saw all the stereo equipment out on the seat,” Sanchez said. “I immediately called 911.”
Sanchez said the men told her that her brother-in-law, Benito Lozada, of Penn Valley, had given them permission to come and take his stereo. Sanchez said she began talking to police dispatchers on the phone and noticed the two men hurrying back to their car to escape.
“I just jumped in their car with them,” Sanchez said, and wedged herself between the driver’s-side door and one of the suspects, who started the car and drove it out onto Highway 20.
“They were little guys,” Sanchez said. “They weren’t strong enough to throw me out of the car,” and she was exchanging blows with them as the vehicle hurtled down the road.
Sanchez said one of the suspects bit her during the battle and the other was stabbing her leg with a screwdriver in an effort to get her foot off the brake. Sanchez said she was not hurt by the screwdriver because she had long pants on and managed to push the brake hard enough to get the car to stop.
“I was yelling ‘they’re kidnapping me,’ the whole time and I was on the phone to 911,” Sanchez said. “And then they all came to my rescue.”
Deputies arrived at the scene to find about 10 to 15 men who had chased the suspects down and pinned them to the ground, according to Nevada County Sheriff’s Sgt. Tim Werner.
Deputies arrested Long David Yang, 18, and Bee Her, 21, on suspicion of kidnapping, burglary, battery, receiving stolen property and conspiracy.
Her was also charged with assault with a deadly weapon for allegedly trying to stab the victim with the screwdriver. He also will face a parole violation, Werner said. Yang was also charged with a probation violation out of Yuba County.
Lake Wildwood resident Brian Foster said he was at the corner of Pleasant Valley Road and Highway 20 when he saw the disturbance break out.
“I heard a little girl screaming ‘They kidnapped my mommy,’ and I just lost it,” Foster said.
So he bolted his truck out onto Highway 20, and blocked the vehicle just as it came to a stop. Inside the car were the suspects who were assaulting the victim, he said.
“When I pulled up, a guy had his arm around her neck,” Foster said. “I grabbed the guy and threw him out.” Foster said he and fellow Homecraft Builders employee Adam York ran the man down with others at the scene and held him until sheriff’s deputies came.
Foster said the other suspect had a crowbar and also fled on foot. He, too, was run down for police by those on the scene, which included two more from Foster’s construction crew, Tim Hronis and Dave Tagg. All of the crewmen live in the Penn Valley area and had just finished their lunch, Foster said.
“I didn’t even think about it,” Foster said. “It all happened in two minutes.”
Lozada also helped in the apprehension after driving up on the scene, Werner said. He had just arrived to retrieve his vehicle after getting off of work early. Authorities said Andy Fellman of Smartville also helped catch the suspects.
Sanchez said she only suffered a cut on her finger and a few bruises. She said the incident happened so fast that fear was not a factor, but she did know one thing.
“It was crazy.”
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