The voice on the phone warned the woman to watch herself and not to go to sleep at night. The man asked if she had “any last words” and said, “Nobody can help you.”
The frightened woman listened to the call with officers at police headquarters in Escondido. She had brought her six-year-old daughter with her, arriving in the dark, about 8:15 p.m. Afraid to stand outside with officers, she’d insisted on going inside the building to talk. The woman said her ex-boyfriend was angry because she wouldn’t take his calls. He’d told her that he had a gun.
Sergio Alejandro Lopez, 25, had been abusive in the past, and the woman had gotten a restraining order. But, the woman told police, Lopez had said that if he couldn’t have her, no one would.
Officers could see text messages from Lopez arriving on the woman’s cell phone. He was also calling her, and she took his calls so officers could listen to what he said.
Officers heard the voice describe what the woman’s mother was currently wearing, what her nightgown looked like. The woman lived with her mother in a mobile home park. The voice described rooms in the home, although the woman told police that her ex had never been in those rooms. And the man said to “just wait to see” what he would do.
Around midnight, officers Sean Davidson and Jared Lunt, along with a police canine named Bronco, were sent to the mobile home park on Oak Hill Drive in Escondido. The man’s phone calls were transmitted to them, and the two officers heard the man say that he would “do anything,” including shoot at officers. And he warned the woman that he was “not going to go out alone” but intended to take a cop with him.
Back at the station, police heard the voice go to a whisper and then “commotion” and sounds of running. Then the phone disconnected.
Searching the mobile home park, Bronco indicated that someone was hiding on the other side of a concrete wall near the clubhouse. Then officers saw a man’s head and shoulders appear over the wall as the man hoisted himself up. Lunt yelled out a surrender order with bite warning. The suspect dropped back down and apparently took off running. Lunt boosted Bronco over the wall and sent him off with bite orders, and then the two cops scrambled over.
The fleeing man got atop a tall retaining wall, jumped onto the clubhouse, and ran across the roof. Davidson saw the man draw a gun from his waistband.
Bronco jumped onto the roof and was enthusiastically closing the distance on the fleeing man when Lunt suddenly worried that his dog would be injured jumping off the roof after the fugitive. Lunt stopped his dog with a “down-stay” command.
The suspect leapt back onto the retaining wall, then crouched and turned. Officers say he fired two shots. Lunt said he saw “two muzzle flashes” and believed the man was shooting at him. Then the suspect jumped off the wall and “hit the ground pretty hard and lost several items,” according to Lunt.
Investigators collected a cell phone, one shoe, and a spent 9mm shell casing.
That night, February 8, 2012, Sergio Alejandro Lopez was not captured. A police helicopter circled overhead, warning residents to remain indoors, and police searched cars as they came and went. The ex-girlfriend stayed at police headquarters for ten hours.
Three months later, Lopez was taken into custody in Mexico. Mexican authorities handed him over to U.S. Marshals. Lopez is said to be a U.S. citizen.
Escondido police say that Lopez is a gang member and that his moniker is “Downer.” On his neck, he sports a “WSG” tattoo, for “West Side Gang,” according to police records.
Lopez’s criminal record began in 2005, the year he turned 18, when he admitted to meth possession and resisting an officer. He was released on unsupervised probation.
A week later, in Escondido, Lopez beat and stabbed a man. The victim was reportedly being punished for calling police about his stolen car. Lopez admitted to using a knife in the assault. Although the plea deal, signed in October 2005, included a four-year prison term, Lopez was out on probation in 2006.
In April 2006, Lopez was accused of assaulting two people with a baseball bat. In the plea deal, he admitted to using the bat on one person and got another four-year prison sentence.
The February 8 incident at the mobile home park was a third-strike case: Lopez could be sentenced to life in prison. He faced seven felony counts, including assault on a peace officer with a firearm and criminal threats.
But on October 4, a jury declared him guilty of negligent discharge of firearm, felon in possession of firearm, and misdemeanor resisting arrest. Defense attorney Andrew Limberg, who spoke with two jurors after the verdict, said the jury was not convinced that Lopez aimed and fired, believing it more likely that he fired unintentionally.
His sentencing hearing is scheduled for December 5. ■