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It was just after midnight last Saturday, and a prowler was roaming through Tierrasanta.

First he tried to open a window to a child’s bedroom. Then he tried to break into another home in the neighborhood. He was unsuccessful both times. Things changed on his third known attempt, shortly after 2 a.m., when he broke into a house and held a woman inside at gunpoint.

San Diego police officers, who had already been searching for the prowler, rushed to the home. Several officers forced their way into the house. One officer climbed onto a rooftop. It wasn’t until after the officer on the roof fired several rounds at the hostage-taker through a window that the man surrendered. No one was hurt.

The San Diego Union-Tribune pieced together a timeline of the crime spree that unfolded in the early-morning hours of April 9 based on records of 911 calls and radio communications between dispatchers and police officers, as well as home surveillance camera footage and video recorded by officers’ body-worn cameras.

The suspect, Demetrius Trussell, 40, was charged Wednesday in San Diego Superior Court with 18 felonies, including burglary, attempted burglary, false imprisonment of a hostage and assault, as well as a misdemeanor count of sexual battery.

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A criminal complaint alleges that a day before the Tierrasanta hostage situation, Trussell broke into four homes and committed a carjacking, but no further information about those crimes has been released.

Trussell did not appear in court last week to enter a plea. A prosecutor said Trussell was in an advanced observation unit at Central Jail, but it was unclear why. The unit monitors inmates who may pose a danger to themselves or others.

Deputy District Attorney Meghan Buckner said Trussell was on parole at the time of the break-ins. According to the complaint, Trussell was convicted of robbery in North Carolina in 2009 and convicted of a “hot prowl” residential burglary in San Diego in 2018.

Here’s how the crime spree unfolded, according to the police records and video:

12:27 a.m. Saturday

A 911 caller reports that a man tried to open a window to a child’s bedroom at a home on Rueda Drive near Tierrasanta Boulevard. The man manages to break the window screen before taking off in a white minivan.

12:51 a.m.

While officers are searching for the prowler, another 911 caller reports that a man tried to break into a home on La Cuenta Drive near Clairemont Mesa Boulevard. The caller reports having seen the man in his backyard, then losing sight of him. A dispatcher records a description of the prowler.

1:26 a.m.

Video from a home security camera shows a white minivan pull into the driveway.

Video from a home security camera shows a white minivan pull into the driveway of a two-story house on Viacha Drive, off Rueda Drive near Tierrasanta Boulevard.

(San Diego Police Department)

Video from a home security camera shows a white minivan pulling into the driveway of a two-story house on Viacha Drive, off Rueda Drive near Tierrasanta Boulevard.

2:18 a.m.

A man breaks into the house on Viacha Drive. A resident — a 53-year-old woman — calls 911 and reports the burglary.

“I have an intruder in the house that’s naked,” the woman tells a dispatcher.

“OK, how did he get in?” the dispatcher asks.

“I don’t know. I was sleeping,” the woman replies. She and her father hide upstairs. She clarifies that the intruder is wearing shorts.

The intruder runs up and down the stairs and masturbates in a bathroom.

2:25 a.m.

An officer asks the dispatcher to confirm that the woman doesn’t know the man and wasn’t expecting anyone.

Officers arrive. Two officers jump a fence and head to the backyard to look for the intruder.

2:27 a.m.

Another officer sees a man who seems to match the description of the intruder in an upstairs bedroom that faces the driveway. “I can see him through the window,” the officer says over the police radio.

The officer then asks the dispatcher to run the license plate number of the white minivan parked in the driveway.

2:28 a.m.

“Hey, tell the (woman) that they need to lock themselves in whatever room they’re in,” an officer tells a dispatcher, “and we might have to force entry to come get this guy.”

A dispatcher tells officers the license plate belongs to a 2016 White Honda Odyssey that was reportedly carjacked.

2:29 a.m.

An officer in the backyard uses a baton to shatter a glass sliding door.

An officer in the backyard uses a baton to shatter a glass sliding door. The two officers in the backyard step into the living room and walk through the home.

(San Diego Police Department)

An officer in the backyard makes “verbal contact” with the woman’s father. “Sir, sir,” the officer says on body-worn camera video.

Seconds later, the intruder breaks through a door to a room where the woman is hiding. She screams.

Another officer in the backyard jumps into action. He uses a baton to shatter a glass sliding door. The two officers in the backyard step into the living room and walk through the home.

“Where is he?” one of the officers asks.

When they get to the bottom of the stairwell, the officers see the intruder and the woman.

“Let me see your (expletive) hands! Let me see your hands!” one of the officers shouts as he starts to walk up the stairs, holding a flashlight in his left arm and gripping his handgun, still in its holster, with his right hand.

Both officers point their handguns up the staircase. The intruder holds a handgun to the woman’s head.

“Gun, gun!” officers shout as they take a few steps back.

2:30 a.m.

Officers see the suspect with the female hostage.

Officers see the suspect with the female hostage after the suspect had taken two people hostage with a hand gun in their home on Viacha Dr.

(San Diego Police Department)

An officer issues a request over the police radio for all on-duty and on-call SWAT officers to respond with their lights and sirens activated.

Officers near the stairwell try to talk to the man while he holds the woman at gunpoint in a bedroom.

“This is a hostage situation,” the intruder tells officers.

“Why?” an officer asks.

“We have a Mexican standoff,” the man states.

“Why is this a hostage situation?” the officer asks.

“‘Cause I don’t have no way out, so I gotta take a hostage with me,” the man replies.

“No, no you don’t,” the officer says.

2:35 a.m.

An officer climbs onto a balcony and helps the woman’s father walk out onto the balcony.

Another officer — possibly a supervisor — tells other officers over the police radio not to go upstairs to the bedroom.

“There’s a door,” the officer on the balcony states over the police radio. “If I can access it, I should have a clear shot at him.”

The other officer insists that officers hold their positions. “I don’t want to force this guy into a situation we don’t want to deal with, OK? Just hold the perimeter,” he says. “We’re waiting on (SWAT officers).”

2:39 a.m.

The man tells officers they’ll “have to send a SWAT team.”

“And then what?” an officer asks.

“I want you to back out … before I shoot her,” the man replies. “I’m going to shoot her in the kneecap.”

“No! No!” the woman yells. “Please, God. Please, God, no!”

The man fires a round. The woman screams.

“What was that?” an officer standing near the bottom of the staircase shouts.

The woman tells officers that the gun went off accidentally and no one was hurt.

2:40 a.m.

An officer armed with a rifle climbs onto a neighboring rooftop.

2:41 a.m.

An officer take fires on a on a suspect who had taken two people hostage.

An officer take fires on a on a suspect who had taken two people hostage with a handgun in their home on Viacha Dr. In San Diego early Saturday morning. The female hostage was successfully rescued by San Diego Police Department SWAT. The suspect was taken into custody after a standoff. The male hostage was rescued as well.

(OnScene.TV)

From the rooftop, Officer Patrick Richards can see the hostage-taker and fires several rounds at him through a window.

The man, who was not injured, drops to the floor and tosses the gun.

Inside the house, officers ask the woman if she can walk down to them. “Come out, come out, come out,” one of the officers shouts. “Come down, come down.”

The woman runs down to them.

2:44 a.m.

San Diego police officers take the suspect into custody.

San Diego police officers take the suspect into custody after he had taken two people hostage with a hand gun in their home on Viacha Dr.

(San Diego Police Department)

The man surrenders. He lies on his stomach near the top of the stairwell. With guns in hand and police dog on standby, officers make their way up the stairs to the suspect and handcuff him.

Source: This post first appeared on sandiegouniontribune.com

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