Coronado police on Wednesday said a woman NBC 7 spoke with and her friend were the 12th and 13th victims of a brazen mugging spree on the island over the weekend.
The brazen gunman pulled off the robberies in a brief stretch on Saturday night. Originally, Coronado police said a what-then-seemed incredible 11 victims had been targeted.
Police believe the crime spree began around 10:30 p.m. in Centennial Park, a usually idyllic spot on Coronado’s north shore that has been memorialized in thousands of photos, with the skyline of downtown San Diego across the water.
On Wednesday, a police spokeswoman confirmed Kristen Moore and a friend of hers had also tried to report to police that they had been the victims of the gunman.
"We understand Ms. Moore’s frustration that evening," Lea Corbin, the departments community relations and training manager, told NBC 7 via an email. "It was a chaotic scene with several injuries, and officers were interviewing other victims at the time and Ms. Moore was unable to stay until we could get to her."
Corbin said somebody from Coronado police had called Moore to apologize.
On Monday, Moore described the terrifying experience to NBC 7.
"It's shocking to know that things that you hear that happen to other people actually happened to you," Moore said, adding, "thankfully, again, knowing that nobody got hurt and we didn't get, either, shot at, made it a little bit less traumatizing."
In fact, two people who wrestled the gun away from the mugger were injured, as was a woman who was repeatedly pistol-whipped in the head. She was taken to a local hospital, and the others were treated at the scene and released, according to police.
Moore said that on Saturday night, she and her friend were in Centennial Park, sitting on a ledge overlooking the water, when they were robbed.
"This guy approached us and made small talk," Moore said. "He was a few feet away so we didn't make it like a big deal."
The mugger told the pair he was from Oceanside and had just come to the park for the view as well.
Moore said she and her friend were smoking a hookah and drinking, and they offered the man a drink.
"As soon as he grabs the Smirnoff that we were drinking, he opens it and tosses it quick … into the ocean," Moore said. "He didn't even take a sip, and then put on his black gloves, and that moment I was just like, you know, it looked sneaky, like something was gonna happen."
Moore said the mugger then lifted up his shirt to show them a gun in his waistband, then asked for their wallets and keys. Moore, though, didn't have anything valuable on her because she makes it a practice to leave her wallet in the car when she goes to the beach.
The gunman pointed the weapon at the stomach of her friend, Moore said, presumably because he was standing. Her friend, though, reached into his pocket and tossed his wallet and phone behind him, then the mugger started patting him down and at that moment noticed Moore's phone, which was down on the ledge, playing music. Instead of taking the phone, however, the mugger tossed it into the water.
While the gunman was searching her friend, Moore said, she hid her keys between her breasts. The gunman reached inside her shirt at one point, Moore said.
"I was not expecting that," Moore said, describing the violation. "I was wearing a low V-neck, so when he went inside, I was, like, thinking, 'He's gonna find the keys.' "
Moore said to herself, "If he doesn't want the phone and he knows that we don't have the wallet' — obviously I don't have keys, from what he probably thinks — I thought, 'It's me. It's gonna be me. It's something sexual.' "
When he was unable to find anything, the robber demanded car keys from the pair, but they lied and told him that they had taken an Uber to the park. Eventually, the mugger satisfied himself with taking their drinks and hookah and ordered them over to some bushes, a moment, Moore said, she thought she was going to be shot. Instead, he fled but not before saying, "Come on, fool," to someone Moore was unable to see.
The mother of two girls, ages 5 and 2, said that relief washed over her when the gunman fled.
"I was scared I wasn't gonna come home to see my daughters," Moore said.
After that, the pair jumped over the ledge they had been perched on and made a run for it, warning other people to head the other way. Moore said she was unaware of the other robberies and was surprised to see police when she made it out to the street.
Moore said she eventually made her way back to where the robbery had taken place and salvaged their phones from the water and, afterward, they approached police and explained that they were victims but that the officer "was acting occupied on his tablet, so I told my friend, 'Let's just go 'cause I don't even want to be here any more.' I just wanted to go home."
Moore said she was distraught and confused by the officer's reaction after they told him they were robbed.
"I just told my friend, 'You know what? Obviously he's just ignoring us. Let's just go.' " Moore said, adding that they left then and went back to her car.
Coronado on Edge
“It’s all anybody’s talking about,” Coronado resident Nancy Howden said on Monday. “Things like that just don’t happen here.”
Piecing together the crime spree, investigators believe the incident began when the suspect pulled out his gun and robbed a couple sitting on a bench
After the gunman took the couple’s cell phones and other valuables, he went to the opposite side of the park, selecting a group of five people as his next target, and again pulled out a gun.
Heading west, the suspect, who police said is in his early to mid-20s and has tattoos on his face, made his way toward the parking lot of Ferry Landing, where he encountered the woman he pistol-whipped the victim in the head. While he attacked her, three other people approached, and they, in turn, became the robber’s next victims.
The group of five victims from Centennial Park had also made their way to the parking lot. After a struggle, they managed to take the robber’s gun. The suspect, however, was able to run away and took off in an unknown vehicle, police said.
Juanita and Mark Chiu were in San Diego visiting from Albuquerque, New Mexico. The couple said they were uneasy at first about coming to the park on Monday.
“We were disappointed, of course, and talking about whether we should come or not and so we decided we would and just be aware of our surroundings,” Juanita Chiu said.
Anyone with information about the crime spree or gunman — who was wearing a gray or black T-shirt and black shoes, and was described as being thin — is being urged to call (619) 522-7350. Coronado police are specifically asking people or businesses in the area with security cameras to contact them.
The area is surrounded by cameras and windows so people may have witnessed the robberies. The Coronado Ferry Landing HOA told NBC 7 that one of their cameras captured part of the altercation and that video is being turned over to police.
Teen Shot During 2020 Jewelry Robbery in Downtown Coronado
While crime is not unheard of in Coronado, Saturday’s robberies do stand out in a city with a very low crime rate. Area residents were shocked in 2020 when a teenager selling a gold necklace to someone he met on social media was shot on Orange Avenue in May of that year.
Three teenagers were eventually arrested in connection to the shooting of 18-year-old Jacob McKanry in downtown Coronado on the evening of May 4. McKanry believed he was meeting up with prospective jewelry buyers after setting up the sale online.
While negotiating the proposed sale, which had been coordinated on the app OfferUp, the suspects allegedly snatched the jewelry away from McKanry, then shot him while fleeing.
McKanry sat down with NBC 7 after being released from the hospital and described the confrontation that left him down in the street.
“I just thought of all the things that I hadn’t done yet, and there was a voice just telling me that, you know, I wasn’t gonna die,” said McKanry.
City News Service contributed to this report — Ed.