Investigators are looking into a brazen attack by at least a half-dozen assailants who reportedly beat a 17-year-old at Ladera Park on Feb. 8 and carjacked his vehicle.
According to police, the boy was parked in a BMW waiting for friends to meet him at the park shortly before
8 p.m. when he was approached on foot by five or six Hispanic men and two Hispanic women — all of whom were believed to be in their mid-20s.
The driver told police two of the suspects forced their way into the car and began ransacking its contents. The victim told investigators he tried to push the suspects from the vehicle as he drove away, prompting the men to beat him. He told police that when he stopped the car, all five or six of the men reportedly began kicking him in the face and head before fleeing in his vehicle.
Officers located the car about 50 yards away from the scene of the attack.
The victim was taken to a local trauma center for treatment of moderate facial injuries.
Suspect arraigned in string of street robberies
Police moved in to arrest one of three men suspected in a string of street robberies that ranged from Ocean Beach to La Jolla on Feb. 2.
The man, identified as Benjamin Hernandez, 23, of National City is believed to have been the getaway driver for the trio of robbers, according to police investigators. He is scheduled for a Feb. 20 preliminary hearing.
Hernandez pleaded not guilty Feb. 5 before San Diego Superior Court Judge David Szumowski, who set bail at $500,000.
“In two or three of the robberies, guns were actually held to the heads of the victims,” said Deputy District Attorney Dan Link to the judge. “This driver was identified by his license plate.”
The other two suspects are still being tracked, said police.
The crime spree, which targeted at least 10 victims, unfolded shortly before 7 p.m. on Cape May near Cable Street in Ocean Beach, when the suspects produced a handgun and a crowbar to demand cellphones and wallets, among other items, from victims, according to investigators.
The robbers then shifted locations over the next few hours, hitting more unsuspecting victims in Midtown, Hillcrest, Golden Hill and Mission Beach before turning their sights on the campus at UC San Diego. Here, the trio robbed two students, one of whom managed to catch the getaway vehicle’s license plate.
The subsequent investigation led to the arrest of Hernandez at his National City home on Feb. 4. He is being held on $100,000 bail.
— Kevin McKay and Neal Putnam
‘Ho-Hum Bandit’ eyeing 20-year sentence
A man suspected of being the “Ho-Hum Bandit” for his nonchalant demeanor during three local bank robberies pleaded guilty Jan. 28 to three holdups in La Jolla and another on Rosecrans Street in Point Loma in 2010.
Adam Lynch, 36, also pleaded guilty to three other bank robberies in downtown San Diego and Hillcrest in 2010. A U.S. District Court judge set Lynch’s sentencing for April 21.
Lynch faces at least 20 years in federal prison for the holdups locally. He is currently serving a 64-month federal sentence for bank robberies in Denver, and Cheyenne, Wyo. A parole date of Dec. 10, 2015 has been set in that case, but his sentence here is expected to run consecutively.
Lynch got his nickname in San Diego because of his almost-routine manner of robbery that didn’t really stand out to witnesses or tellers. He always had a demand note that said he was armed, but no weapon was ever displayed and no one was physically harmed.
After stealing more than $25,000 locally, Lynch moved on to other states and he was arrested in Denver on April 21, 2011, according to court records. The first bank he robbed was a U.S. Bank branch at 1075 Rosecrans St. on Feb. 27, 2010.
Lynch then robbed a Wells Fargo Bank branch at 7714 Girard Ave. in La Jolla and twice held up the same Citibank branch at 7900 Hershel Ave. a month apart.
According to court records, the note Lynch gave a teller at the Wells Fargo bank read: “Do what I say. This is for real. Don’t talk. Don’t move.” Lynch’s hometown is Corte Madera, Calif. and he remains in custody without bail.
— Neal Putnam
Peninsula planners seek board candidates
The Peninsula Community Planning Board (PCPB) has six board positions opening in March and is welcoming candidates to run for election to get more involved in the governance of their community.
Five of the board positions are three-year terms; the sixth position is for a one- year term.
The planning board will hold a candidates’ forum Thursday, March 6 from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at the Point Loma/Hervey Branch Library on Voltaire Street. The election will be held at the same location on Thursday, March 20 from 4 to 8 p.m.
To be eligible for election, interested candidates must be at least 18 years old, live in or own a business within the PCPB boundaries, be able to commit to a three-year term (shorter for unexpired terms) and have attended at least one regular meeting within the last 12 months (attending the candidates’ forum qualifies for this requirement).
Applications can be downloaded from the PCPB’s website at www.pcpb.-net. Email applications to pcpbem@-gmail.com.
The Peninsula Community Planning Board is a volunteer community planning group citizen organization that advises the city on land- use-based community goals and development proposals.
The PCPB meets on the third Thursday of each month at the Point Loma Library. Various subcommittees also meet on a regular basis.
For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Forum set on non-violent Palestinian struggles
Westminster Presbyterian Church will host a forum on Feb. 16, featuring the Rev. Darrel Meyers and Sue Randerson. The duo will speak about their recent trip to Israel and the occupied territories during the church’s Pastor’s Forum.
The trip was led by the Rev. Dr. Donald Wagner, program director for Friends of Sabeel North America. Sabeel is an ecumenical liberation theology center founded in Jerusalem 25 years ago by the Rev. Dr. Naim Ateek, retired canon of St. George’s Anglican cathedral in East Jerusalem. Sabeel is supported by faith-based networks on five continents, including Africa, from which Archbishop Desmond Tutu serves as its international patron.
While in the Holy land, Meyers and Randerson visited with 12 of the many Palestinian organizations working nonviolently to resist the illegal Israeli occupation of their lands. They also attended the ninth international conference of Sabeel in Jerusalem, which focused on the topic, “The Bible and Occupation,” and was attended by hundreds of people from around the world.
Westminster Presbyterian Church is located at 3598 Talbot St. in Point Loma. The program begins at 11:30 a.m. in the church’s fellowship hall, and is free and open to the public. A potluck lunch will be served.
For more information, call (619) 223-3193.
Seniors Helping Seniors expands local operations
Seniors Helping Seniors San Diego (SHS) is expanding its service network into several new communities, including Point Loma, La Jolla, Coronado, downtown San Diego, Hillcrest/Mission Hills, Scripps Ranch, Tierrasanta, El Cajon and La Mesa.
The expansion will allow seniors the ability to choose an independent lifestyle in their own homes by providing an array of services from other caring seniors in order to maintain their desired level of independence, said SHS officials.
“Our expansion into these coastal and inland communities will provide additional care options for seniors, flexible employment opportunities for seniors who still want to work and peace of mind for the adult children of seniors who often struggle to balance their parents’ needs with their own day-to-day life commitments,” said SHS co-owner Sue Erskine.
Erskine said SHS clients find working with other seniors to be more comfortable because they understand and appreciate the challenges of remaining independent.
Services provided include companion care, light housekeeping, personal care, transportation, overnight supervision, 24-hour care, house maintenance and small repairs and yard work.
In most cases, the care is provided in the senior’s own home; however, occasionally the client may reside with a relative or live in an assisted-living community or other group living setting and services can be provided there.
For more information, call (619) 346-4535, or visit www.seniorshelpingseniors.com/sandiego.