San Diego Police Officer Henry Hubbard Jr., linked to a series of attempted robberies and sexual assaults at local beaches over the past two months, probably knew about police stakeouts at those locations, a ranking police administrator said Friday.
Assistant Chief Cal Krosch said investigators from the Sex Crimes Division were conducting at least five stakeouts at city beaches over that same time, looking for a masked suspect. They routinely informed officers in the Northern Division about their work so patrol officers would not accidentally blow their cover.
Hubbard, 29, a 4 1/2-year patrol officer, worked northern patrol in the La Jolla beach area, where three of the seven attacks occurred. He was arrested Thursday in the attempted murder of two young men who came to the aid of a 21-year-old woman whom police said Hubbard was trying to rape.
"There is a good likelihood that he could have been aware of the stakeouts," Krosch said. "Of course, someone with that knowledge would not try to commit a crime." But Krosch, like county prosecutors, believes there is enough evidence to make Hubbard the prime suspect in the attacks, involving attempted robbery and sexual assault, from northern San Diego to Solana Beach.
Meanwhile, police sources confirmed Friday that a flashlight engraved with Hubbard's name was found on the beach shortly after the attack. Krosch refused to confirm or deny that.
Police have confiscated guns from Hubbard's Mira Mesa home and his locker at work, and gathered other evidence at Torrey Pines State Park, where the attack occurred at 3:50 a.m. Thursday.
Authorities said two men--Aldo Ochoa, 21, and Arthur Gracia, 23--were swimming with a woman companion when the woman got cold and left the water. She approached a lifeguard tower and saw a masked man sitting there. When she screamed, her two companions ran out of the water toward him.
The masked man had a gun and ordered one man to tie up the other. Then he told the woman to bind the second man's hands. When she refused, the gunman tried to do it himself.
The woman fled and heard six shots as she ran. Ochoa was hit once in the abdomen and Gracia was shot once in the chest. The gunman, who they said somehow shot his own left hand, ran away, and the woman drove with her two companions to telephone police.
At Scripps Memorial Hospital in La Jolla, Ochoa's condition was upgraded Friday from critical to serious, and Gracia remained in good condition. The woman was not wounded.
Hubbard got home at about 4:30 a.m., according to police. He told his wife that his car had stalled at Interstate 805 and Mira Mesa Boulevard, about five miles from the beach, police said. Hubbard told her he had been shot in the hand by one of three men trying to rob him, authorities said.
Karen Hubbard drove her husband to UC San Diego Medical Center, where hospital staff notified police of the gunshot wound, as they are required to do.
At the scene of the shooting, the investigator, Sgt. Richard M. O'Hanlon, heard on his scanner that a police officer had arrived at the medical center with a gunshot wound to one hand. He realized that matched the description the victims had just given him, and linked Hubbard to the shooting, police said.
Hubbard is to be arraigned Monday after prosecutors weigh charges against him over the weekend. He has been suspended from his job, and police have begun termination proceedings.