VISTA (CNS) - A masked gunman robbed four Vista businesses in quick succession before fleeing into a nearby vacant field where a sheriff's dog brought him down until deputies arrested him, authorities said Tuesday.
The Monday night crime spree was allegedly carried out by Jose Antonio Altamirano, 22, who was in custody today in the Vista Detention Facility on suspicion of six felonies and a misdemeanor, including five felony counts of robbery, jail records showed. He was booked into jail early this morning and was being held in lieu of $545,000 bail.
It all began shortly after 6 p.m. Monday when Altamirano, dressed in dark clothing and a camouflage mask, allegedly used a black handgun to rob four businesses in the 2500 block of South Santa Fe Avenue in unincorporated Vista, San Diego County Sheriff's Sgt. Al Gathings said.
After making off with an undisclosed amount of cash, he fled on foot into a nearby vacant field, where deputies began to search for him with patrol dogs and the sheriff's helicopter, Gathings said. At some point during the search, deputies "observed a man matching the suspect's description running through the field," the sergeant said. A sheriff's dog found the man, later identified as Altamirano, lying in thick brush.
Sheriff's officials provided few details of the arrest, but the dog "contacted" the suspect and pinned him down until deputies arrested him, Gathings said. Altamirano was later treated at a hospital, but the sergeant did not say if he was treated for dog-bite injuries or something else.
Witnesses identified Altamirano as the robbery suspect, and deputies who searched him found cash matching the amounts stolen from the four businesses, Gathings said. Altamirano was taken from the hospital to the sheriff's Vista substation, where detectives interviewed him before he was booked into jail.
Gathings said investigators believe Altamirano may also be responsible for other recent robberies in the area.