A Tierrasanta man described his family's terrifying encounter with a suspect who is now accused of entering several homes overnight and, in one instance, sexually assaulting a woman and holding victims hostage.
Demetrius Trussell, 40, is facing 18 felony counts including sex assault, kidnapping, burglary, indecent exposure and carjacking in connection to at least seven break-ins during a spree through Tierrasanta overnight on April 16, police say.
If convicted on all counts, the 40-year-old man could be sentenced to 200 years behind bars.
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Sergei Tkalichev, who speaks little English and spoke exclusively with NBC 7 through translation by his sister Tatyana Kahn, said Trussell awoke his wife, who was asleep with their six-year-old son, Vlad, and infant daughter.
“When [my wife] opened her eyes, there was an African-American guy standing next to her bed. She starts screaming and tries to get out of the apartment with her child,” Tkalichev said.
The suspect then ran out of their apartment and came face-to-face with Tkalichev, who snapped a photo with his cell phone before the suspect shoved him to the ground, jumped in Tkalichev's car and drove away, he said.
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"He wasn’t walking straight. He was weaving and when he came closer his face didn’t look like a regular normal sober person," Tkalichev said.
Police said Tkalichev's stolen vehicle was found outside the Tierrasanta home where Demetrius Trussell was finally taken into custody.
Police say Tkalichev apartment was one of eight homes Trussell allegedly burglarized or broke into. In the last home invasion of the crime spree, Trussell is accused of sexually assaulting a 53-year-old woman and holding her and her elderly father hostage at gunpoint.
SDPD broke into the home to rescue the hostages but the suspect did not surrender until police fired shots. Police released footage of the dramatic rescue.
Tkalichev's wife and children were not injured, and the family is counting their blessings.
“We are lucky that this guy didn’t walk into my son’s room first," Tkalichev said. “I am very happy he was arrested basically the same night. Thankful to God that he protected my family."
“I cannot feel safe anymore and I am always trying to look around. I don’t feel safe. She (my wife) cannot sleep. She is crying. She is not feeling safe being on the first floor,” Tkalichev said.
Tkalichev said the intruder entered the home through a small open window. The family is trying to work with the landlord to provide them with another apartment on the second or third floor in another building of the complex.
Sergei and his family emigrated to the U.S. last October from Siberia.