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Suspect arrested in home invasion robbery of elderly woman

Gerri Dickinson, 89, is seen during an interview on Saturday, July 11, 2015.

Gerri Dickinson, 89, is seen during an interview on Saturday, July 11, 2015.

(KTLA)

A 27-year-old Pasadena man was arrested Wednesday in connection with a home-invasion robbery that left an elderly Burbank woman with a fractured clavicle, broken nose and bruises all over her body.

Lonnie Garcia, who police said was released from prison about a month ago, was charged on Friday with one count each of first-degree burglary with a person present, attempted first-degree residential robbery and elder abuse, according to the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office.

Police used surveillance footage collected near the scene to identify the getaway car used in the robbery. After locating the car in Pasadena, investigators asked officers from the neighboring agency to stop the car.

The driver, identified as 39-year-old Highland resident Eddie Baca, failed to stop and led police on a short pursuit, which ended in a collision, said Burbank Police Sgt. Claudio Losacco.

Baca was arrested on suspicion of drug sales and evading police, though it’s unclear whether he was connected to the robbery.

Further investigation led police to a residence in Pasadena, where they located Garcia, who investigators reportedly recognized from the surveillance footage.

The robbery occurred Friday evening, when 89-year-old Gerri Dickinson answered a knock at her door, shortly after her daughter had left.

There, a man told her he had good news for her.

He then forced his way inside, pulled a sheet from her couch and tied it around her neck while also shoving it inside her mouth.

“I’m coming in to get your stuff, where are your jewels?” he asked, according to Dickinson’s daughter Tracey Cawdrey.

While Dickinson was attempting to fight him off, he pushed her to the ground, threw a chair at her and threatened to shoot her.

“I said, ‘Go ahead and shoot me,’” Dickinson recalled, adding that she didn’t think he had a gun.

The man then left her and ransacked her bedroom, filling a pillowcase he took from her linen closet with her belongings.

Meanwhile, Dickinson called for assistance using her medical alert system.

When the suspect heard her talking, he called on the phone his accomplice, “Dick,” who appeared to be waiting outside, and told him things were not going as planned.

“Dick evidently said, ‘Well you better leave,’” Dickinson said, and the man fled.

Police were called to the scene around 8:20 p.m.

“She’s lucky to be alive,” Cawdrey said, adding that the suspect appeared to be “quite surprised she was so feisty.”

When officers arrived to her home, which is located in the neighborhood near DeBell Golf Club, Dickinson was able to walk and talk. She was transported to a local hospital for treatment.

Garcia, who is being held without bail, has had several run-ins with law enforcement, including two burglary convictions, in 2010 and 2012, respectively, as well as a conviction in 2013 for possessing a controlled substance for sale.

He was being supervised under the state’s realignment program, known as AB 109, according to Losacco.

“If it wasn’t for AB 109, the gentleman would still be in custody,” Losacco said.

The investigation is ongoing.

Losacco reminded residents not to answer the door if they don’t know who is knocking, and to call the police if they are concerned about a visitor or suspicious activity.

Residents, however, should make it known that they’re home to avoid a potential burglary, he said.

“Oftentimes what folks will do is knock on the door, find that nobody’s home and go around the back,” he said.


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