Weird crimes so far this year in La Mesa

The hatchet, the drug dealer, and two staged robberies

Police Chief Vasquez: Two cases were “unfounded.”
  • Police Chief Vasquez: Two cases were “unfounded.”

According to La Mesa police chief Walt Vasquez’s quarterly operations report for the first three months of 2017, the city’s one homicide was related to a 1996 incident where a man attacked his mother with a firearm. She died this year, and the medical examiner “concluded her death was a result of injuries sustained during the assault” and reclassified the crime as a negligent homicide in March 2017 statistics. The son was prosecuted in 1996 for the aggravated assault, completed his sentence, and died in 2016.

Vasquez presented his report at the May 9 La Mesa City Council meeting; the report highlighted some other closed cases.

At the Best Buy located on the 8400 block of Fletcher Parkway, a man on February 28 was observed putting an item later identified as a Canon camera into a black backpack. When confronted by a loss-prevention agent, the man brandished a hatchet. "Want to get hit with a hatchet?" he asked and fled in a brown Buick. The sheriff’s department on March 21 provided Crime Stoppers with photos of the suspect from La Mesa's case and two related sheriff's robbery cases. The suspect’s mother saw the Crime Stoppers report and made her son turn himself in. He took the camera to the Santee sheriff’s station and was booked for robbery.

On March 17, “a boyfriend and girlfriend conspired” to rob her drug dealer. That day, she and the dealer checked into a room at a hotel on the 7800 block of Fletcher Parkway. Her boyfriend entered with a 9mm gun and robbed the dealer of “his meth and heroin.” During an “altercation,” a round was fired into a bed, and the dealer stabbed the male suspect in the back. Police officers arrived at the hotel and “located 31 grams of heroin and 13 grams of meth.” The woman had taken the “boyfriend/suspect” to Grossmont Hospital. She confessed to police and was booked for robbery and conspiracy.

In a May 11 phone interview, Vasquez said, “The case is still being investigated by our detectives. There could be charges on everything from drug sales to violent crime [and] robbery. We’re still looking for others involved in that case.” Furthermore, investigations determined that two cases were “unfounded.”

On January 8, surveillance video at the Subway on the 8900 block of Fletcher Parkway showed a male suspect forcibly enter the shop at about 5:05 a.m. He forced a male employee to give him money in the register. The suspect took about $75 and fled on foot. Detectives determined the two men were friends who staged the crime. Both were charged with burglary.

On March 21, a Spring Valley man lost approximately $3000 gambling at Barona Casino. He drove to La Mesa and parked outside the USE (University and State Employees) Credit Union branch on the 8600 block of La Mesa Boulevard. At approximately 5:36 p.m., he called 911 and said he was robbed by a male suspect. The sheriff’s department ASTREA helicopter and several La Mesa officers searched for the suspect. Lead detectives were suspicious, and the man confessed on March 28 “that he made up the robbery story to cover for his losses.”

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