PALMDALE – A 16-year-old was home alone from school Thursday when he noticed a sheriff’s helicopter circling his home followed by deputies knocking on his door. The teen consented to having deputies search his backyard for an armed robbery suspect, and they went through the garage because the sliding door wasn’t working, the teen said. Inside the garage, the alert teen made a scary discovery.
“I see that the ladder is moved and the hole into the attic was covered with a board,” the teen said. “I told the cops, ‘He’s up there!’”
Hiding in the garage attic was Erik Perez, the 31-year-old armed robbery suspect who had led deputies on an erratic high-speed car chase, which culminated into a manhunt and neighborhood lockdown Thursday afternoon.
Authorities believe Perez is the gunman who held up a Vallero gas station at 95th Street East and Palmdale Boulevard on Wednesday, and then escaped on a motorcycle. Perez may also be connected to an armed robbery at an area Motel 6 that happened within the past two weeks, and he was possibly involved in other robberies, sheriff’s officials said.
With each robbery, Perez showed great potential of escalating his robberies into more violent crimes, according to a sheriff’s department press release.
Thursday afternoon, sheriff’s detectives received information that Perez was in the area of 5th Street East and Avenue Q-12.
While checking the area, deputies located Perez driving a green Ford Explorer. When Perez noticed the deputies, he immediately fled in his vehicle and a car chase was initiated.
The high-speed car chase took place primarily on surface streets until Perez led the pursuit onto dirt roads and unoccupied desert lands, according to the sheriff’s press release.
Perez eventually jumped out of the still moving vehicle and ran into a residential neighborhood at 52nd Street East and Avenue T-8, according to Sgt. Kyle Bistline of the Palmdale Partners Against Crime (PAC) team.
“Deputies had to get in the car and actually get it in park so it wouldn’t run into someone’s house or car and damage something,” Bistline said.
Dozens of deputies contained the neighborhood and surrounding streets and began searching door-to-door for Perez with the assistance of a sheriff’s helicopter.
Based on the violent nature of Perez’s crimes and the high probability he was armed, a Special Weapons Team and a police dog responded to the containment to assist with the search, according to the sheriff’s press release.
“He actually threw the gun as he was running, the dog was able to find the gun on the path that he ran,” Bistline said.
The search eventually led to the teen’s home, in the 35900 Block of 53rd Street East, where Perez may have been hiding out in the garage attic for more than an hour as the teen was home alone watching television.
“What the cops are stating is that he was hiding in the backyard bush and he got in through the doggy door,” the teen said.
The teen said he was unable to catch a glimpse of the man who had broken into his home because he was ordered outside to safety as soon as deputies became aware of the situation.
“I wasn’t afraid so much, I had an adrenaline rush, I honestly wanted to help the cops with him,” the teen said. “It was really really exciting to see those SWAT guys here. I even got to take pictures with them,” he added.
Perez was taken into custody late Thursday afternoon with the assistance of a Sheriff’s Department police dog. He was transported to a local hospital for medical treatment and is facing two counts of robbery.