By Karen Billing
More than 30 Pacific Highlands Ranch residents showed up to a community meeting on June 21 to discuss the incident last week when a serial streaker was caught in their neighborhood.
The meeting was put together by the community’s very active Neighborhood Watch with District 1 Council member Sherri Lightner in attendance, as well as members of the San Diego Police Department’s Northwestern Division, including Captain Albert Guaderrama, Lieutenant Todd Jarvis and Sergeant Jeff Sterling. Both Jarvis and Sterling were involved in the June 16 pursuit of the suspect.
“After last week’s incident we thought it was critical to get the San Diego Police Department as well as Council member Sherri Lightner involved and come in to talk to us to ease the tension,” said Aaron Johnson, who heads up his community’s Neighborhood Watch. “The tension has died down from last week but we have a lot of unanswered questions.”
Most of the community’s questions revolved around why the 19-year-old suspect was caught and then released, one man saying the suspect was treated with kid gloves, with deference given to his parents.
Guaderrama and Jarvis said it was an investigative decision to let him go as they attempt to build a case against him.
Last week’s incident was one in a series of incidents in the area of Del Mar Heights Road and Carmel Valley Road. Jarvis said they are investigating about six incidents where motorists reported seeing a naked man jump out of the bushes on the landscape bank near the Pacific Highlands Ranch arches. Several people claimed to see him masturbate as they drove by.
One woman in attendance at the meeting said she had seen a young man of the same description off of SR-56 about one to two months ago.
If police had taken him into custody last week, the suspect’s bail would have been $50. Police are pursuing potential lewd act case, which carries a bail of $10,000.
The cases will go to the city attorney.
“An investigative decision was made, that dealing with the parents made more sense rather than taking him downtown,” Jarvis said. “We understand that this is a concern for this community and I like that fact that you’re all here and care enough to be here. We just ask that you trust that we have your best interests in mind and we’re trying to get the best results.”
In response to the prior incidents, cops were working undercover in the area on June 16. The young man seemed to have developed a routine, always being spotted around 3:15 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.
“It was fortunate that he was going to the same location at the same time,” said Jarvis.
Officers spotted him and gave chase on foot—the suspect jumped a fence and raced through the neighborhood. The search for the suspect involved multiple officers and a helicopter. With a strong tip from a resident (thought to be a Neighborhood Watch member) that a person that met the suspect’s description lived in a particular house, police entered and found him barricaded in his bedroom.
His parents were called to help get him out and he was handcuffed.
“His parents took this very seriously and did not want him in the neighborhood, they did not want him acting up and they were seeking immediate help for him,” Jarvis said.
The man, who is a college student who attends school outside of San Diego County, is not believed to still be in the community.
“His parents didn’t want him to be here, they were embarrassed and they wanted to get him out,” Jarvis said.
Guaderrama reminded residents of the important partnership that exists between themselves and the police.
“We’re relying on your eyes and ears, as well,” he said, telling the audience members that they can always call the police if they spot the suspect on their streets again or any other suspicious person.
To make a police report with Northwestern Division, call (858) 523-7000.