San Diego County authorities are investigating two attacks on street vendors on back-to-back nights.
The first vendor fell victim just before 6 p.m., Monday evening while selling elotes on Greenfield Drive in El Cajon.
"Thank god the attacker didn’t shoot," Paul Eduardo Ruelas said. He was just trying to make some money, and now Ruelas says he fears for his life.
Recalling the incident, Ruelas said one man distracted him while another man, wearing a mask, pistol-whipped him from behind. He threw the cash in the air trying to escape the blows.
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"But I did think he probably could have shot me, I thought maybe I could die," Ruelas said. "A lot of things went through my head; my family, what do I do.”
The two attackers grabbed about $400 and ran.
“At night it can get sketchy," said an El Cajon resident who only wished to be identified as Steve. Steve lives near the attack and often sees Paul on his route.
“He seemed like a nice guy," Steve said about the vendor. "He would come rolling by during the afternoon when I would typically walk. It's very disconcerting that in this area he would be mugged."
Ruelas said he needed seven staples to close two head wounds. It will be at least two weeks until his wrist injury heals enough to go back to work. That means no money coming in for Ruelas, who has a wife and daughter to support.
"It’s so bad that people take advantage of people like me, who make a living this way. They see us as vulnerable individuals, honestly," he said.
One suspect in Ruelas' attack is described as having a thin build and blonde goatee. The other is described as a heavy-set man who wore a ski mask.
Anyone with information is asked to call the San Diego County Sheriff's Department.
The night after Ruelas was attacked, a vendor was robbed at knifepoint while selling tamales outside the Walmart Neighborhood Market on Imperial Avenue, according to the San Diego Police Department. The thief also ran away with the vendor's cash.
This man was described as a bald man, about 40-years-old, roughly 6 feet tall with a medium build and weighing about 200 lbs.
Anyone with information on the second attack can call SDPD.
While the crimes are similar, police have not linked the attacks.