Homeless man charged with 19 counts in Westside crime spree

Transient charged with multiple counts after carjackings and crashes in Pacific Palisades Monday

A homeless man faces more than a dozen charges related to a Pacific Palisades crime spree earlier this week that included multiple carjackings and crashes, authorities said.

The man, 44-year-old Brian Thomas Cruz, was charged Wednesday with 19 criminal counts, including assault with a deadly weapon, carjacking, burglary, robbery, criminal threats, reckless driving causing injury, kidnapping and false imprisonment, according to the Los Angeles County district attorney's office.

On Monday morning, authorities say Cruz first went into a woman's home and forced her at knifepoint to drive him in her car, which she intentionally crashed to get away. He then allegedly carjacked a teacher's vehicle near Palisades High School, after which he struck several other vehicles, authorities said.

After leaving the second car, Cruz entered another residence and allegedly forced a woman inside to give him her car keys. He took that car and crashed it against several other vehicles before running a red light and colliding with yet another car near Webb Way in Malibu, according to the district attorney's office.

After that crash, officers caught up with and arrested Cruz.

Bail was recommended to be set at $2.85 million. If convicted as charged, Cruz may face life in prison, prosecutors said.

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