Officials believe that a man and his teenage girlfriend targeted an officer, with plans to kidnap and hold an individual for ransom before placing the person in a car and burning it.
Philip Hernandez, 40, and 18-year-old Cindy Garcia made preparations for such an instance, said Jim Koerber with the District Attorney’s office. Hernandez was killed by officers in a gun battle on Wednesday after he and Garcia allegedly went on a violent crime spree for three days throughout San Diego.
Koerber said that Garcia and Hernandez allegedly approached a man on Monday, Oct. 29 and demanded the man’s car. The victim was then confronted by a female suspect with a handgun believed to be Garcia. She allegedly told the victim to comply with their demands or she would “blow his head off.”
Garcia then allegedly handcuffed the victim and held him at gunpoint, while Hernandez is believed to have transferred their belongings to the victim’s car and burned a white sedan.
The pair is also believed to be responsible for a shooting that happened earlier that day involving a man in Hillcrest. Koerber said it’s believed Hernandez saw the man and believed that was the person who arrested for his relationship with Garcia, which began when she was 16 years old.
After Hernandez was let out of jail in Riverside and then failed to show up for court case a warrant was issued and he was arrested in Mission Valley in October.
Koerber also said the couple allegedly parked outside the SDPD headquarters and wanted to kill the officer who arrested Hernandez last month.
Earlier that day, authorities said the couple’s crime spree began with a car fire in 2600 block of East Mission Bay Drive.
Then, around 9 a.m., a man was robbed in Mission Valley East. Hours later, veteran off-duty SDPD officer Les Stewart was robbed and shot in the head while using an ATM in Escondido and survived his injuries.
Officials believe that Hernandez also attempted to locate and kill the officer who was responsible for arresting Hernandez weeks earlier.
Garcia now faces three felony counts of carjacking, robbery and making criminal threats, with other charges pending review. Her bail was set at $1 million during an arraignment on Friday afternoon.
Garcia is held at such a high bail because of the seriousness to the crime spree she was allegedly involved in and the danger to the community, said Koerber. She could face 19 years in prison if convicted.
Prosecutors did not say who Garcia and Hernandez had been planning to kidnap, or why they wanted to harm them.
The investigation is ongoing and investigators are working to determine Garcia's role in the situation.