A suspect in an armed robbery spree that targeted at least 13 people at a park in Coronado last weekend was taken into custody Friday by gang suppression officers in Oceanside, according to the Oceanside Police Department.
Coronado police said Manuel Sebastian Hernandez, 19, pulled off a series of armed robberies at Centennial Park on Feb. 12. The spree began around 10:30 p.m. when Hernandez pulled out a gun and robbed a couple on a bench.
Hernandez took the couple’s cell phones and other valuables, then went to the opposite side of the park where he pulled his gun on a group of five people, police said.
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He then moved west toward the Ferry Landing parking lot, where he encountered a woman. Police said he pistol-whipped her victim in the head. Then three people approached, and they were also robbed by Hernandez, according to police.
The group of five victims from Centennial Park had also made their way to the parking lot. After a struggle, they managed to take Hernandez's gun. He then ran away and left the area in an unknown vehicle, police said.
Police said two of the victims were hurt fighting the suspect but only had minor injuries. The woman who was attacked, however, was taken to a hospital for treatment.
On Wednesday, Coronado police confirmed Kristen Moore and her friend were the 12th and 13th victims of Hernandez's that day.
Moore told NBC 7 she and her friend were 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. Then they offered him 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, Moore said.
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, Moore said 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, Moore said. SHe 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 anymore.' 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.
On Wednesday, a Coronado police spokeswoman confirmed Moore and her friend tried to report the incident to police.
"We understand Ms. Moore’s frustration that evening," Lea Corbin, the department's community relations and training manager, told NBC 7 in 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 the department called Moore to apologize.
Hernandez was arrested Friday just after 5:30 p.m. and is in custody at the San Diego Central Jail, OPD spokesperson Jennifer Atenza and the Coronado Police Department confirmed.
The teenager faces 14 counts of armed robbery, one count of assault with a firearm, one count of battery with serious bodily injury and one count of carrying a loaded firearm in public, according to records.