By David Hernandez
Source The San Diego Union-Tribune
San Diego police on Wednesday released dramatic video that shows an intruder holding a woman hostage at gunpoint in her Tierrasanta home early Saturday while officers in and around the house try to rescue her.
Authorities allege the suspect, Demetrius Trussell, 40, broke into four homes a day earlier and tried to break into two homes Saturday before he broke into the house where he held the woman hostage, according to police and a criminal complaint filed Wednesday in San Diego Superior Court.
Trussell was charged with 18 felonies and a misdemeanor in connection with the crime spree. He did not appear in court to enter a plea. A prosecutor said he was in an advanced observation unit at Central Jail, but it was unclear why. The unit monitors inmates who may pose a danger to themselves or others.
Deputy District Attorney Meghan Buckner said Trussell was on parole at the time of the break-ins. According to the complaint, Trussell was convicted of robbery in North Carolina in 2009 and convicted of a "hot prowl" residential burglary in San Diego in 2018.
The hostage situation at the home on Viacha Drive prompted a San Diego police officer, who was perched on a neighboring rooftop, to shoot at the suspect after the man fired a round inside the house. No one was hit.
Saturday's crime spree began about 12:30 a.m. when a man tried to break into a home on Rueda Drive. About 30 minutes later, while officers were searching for the prowler, a second break-in attempt was reported on La Cuenta Drive.
About 2:20 a.m., the break-in was reported on Viacha Drive, when the 53-year-old victim called 911.
According to audio of the call, released Wednesday along with the body-worn camera video, the woman reported that the intruder ran down the stairs and was masturbating in a bathroom. She said she was unsure how the man entered the home — she had been sleeping.
Police said two officers climbed over a fence and went to the backyard. One of them made "verbal contact" with the woman's father, police said.
"Sir, sir," the officer says on his body-worn camera.
Then a loud bang and screams are heard. Police said the intruder broke through a door to a room where the woman was hiding.
The video shows the other officer using a baton to shatter a sliding glass patio door. The two officers walk into the living room, and when they approach the bottom of a stairwell, they see the intruder and the woman.
"Let me see your (expletive) hands! Let me see your hands!" one of the officers shouts as he starts to walk up the stairs, a flashlight in his left arm pointed upstairs and his right hand on his handgun, in the holster.
Both officers then point their handguns up the staircase. The suspect appears to pull the woman into what looks like a bathroom, a handgun to her temple.
"Gun, gun!" the officers shout.
Police said officers near the stairwell tried to talk to the man as he held the woman at gunpoint for about 10 minutes. Police allege the man also exposed himself to the woman and sexually battered her.
The whole time the woman was still on the phone with police.
"This is a hostage situation," a man says on an audio clip police released. "We have a Mexican standoff."
"Why is this a hostage situation?" an officer asks.
"'Cause I don't have no way out, so I gotta take a hostage with me," the man replies.
"No, no you don't," the officer says.
On a second audio clip, the man tells the officers they're "going to have to send a SWAT team."
"And then what?" an officer asks.
"I want you to back out ... before I shoot her," the man replies. "I'm going to shoot her in the kneecap."
"No! No!" the woman yells. "Please, God. Please, God, no!"
Less than a minute later, the man fired a round, police said.
On body-worn camera video, the woman can be heard yelling, then saying the gun went off accidentally and that no one was hurt.
As officers continued to talk to the man, one officer climbed a rear balcony and helped the woman's father onto the balcony, according to the footage.
Another officer climbed onto a neighbor's rooftop. From there, the officer had a view of the hostage-taker. After the round was fired inside the house, the officer fired multiple times at the man, police said.
Video from a neighboring home's surveillance camera shows the officer on the rooftop and muzzle flashes. Police did not release footage from that officer's body-worn camera.
Fired upon, the hostage-taker dropped to the floor, tossed the gun and surrendered, police said.
Body-worn camera video from officers at the bottom of the stairwell shows the woman run down the stairs to them. Moments later, officers, guns in hand, walk up the stairwell and handcuff the suspect as he lies on his stomach.
Police said they found a handgun near where the man was arrested.
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