A Cathedral City man was identified as the suspect in robberies of two ice cream vendors after being booked for allegedly taking a landscape worker's wallet at gunpoint and leading police on a chase, a police official said Friday.
Christian Alexander Cervantes was arrested about 5:30 p.m. Thursday at Gran Via Court and Monterey Avenue in Palm Desert, in the area where the chase stopped.
Four hours earlier, police responded to an armed robbery call in the 68700 block of Tortuga Road in Cathedral City, where a man said someone approached him while he was doing landscaping work and asked him about working at another residence, Cathedral City police Sgt. Jon Enos said.
"The victim engaged in small talk about the work, when the suspect brandished a handgun," Enos said. "The suspect demanded the victim give him his wallet. The victim, fearing for his life, gave the suspect his wallet."
The suspect drove off in a Ford Mustang. While police looked for the car, the victim checked his online credit card account and saw that his card was used at a local gas station. Officers obtained a photograph of the suspect using the credit card, and at about 5:15 p.m., they found a car matching the Mustang's description near Demuth Park in Palm Springs.
They saw a man matching the suspect's description get into the car, and it sped off as they converged on it, Enos said.
The car drove through Palm Springs, Cathedral City and Rancho Mirage, nearing 90 mph on Country Club Drive. The car turned south onto Monterey, where the driver lost control trying to pass another vehicle. The car struck a vehicle and stopped.
Cervantes, the Mustang's driver, was arrested, and his 16-year-old passenger was detained and later released when police determined he wasn't involved in the robbery. The driver of the vehicle Cervantes struck wasn't hurt, Enos said.
He said a gun believed to be used in the robbery was found in the Mustang. Cervantes was booked at the Larry D. Smith Correctional Facility in Banning.
After he was taken into custody, police determined that he fit the description of a man who robbed two ice cream vendors in Cathedral City, one of which occurred earlier on Thursday. The victim told officers he was pushing his ice cream cart near Ramon Road and Cathedral Canyon Drive around 11:40 a.m. when he was flagged down by a man driving a red Ford Mustang. The man said he wanted to buy ice cream, and when the vendor reached into his cart, the suspect pulled out a handgun and demanded his money. The vendor gave it to him, and the suspect drove off.
The other robbery was June 28, when a man approached another ice cream vendor on Avenida El Mundo north of Ramon and said he wanted to buy ice cream.
As with the other robbery, when the vendor reached into his cart, the suspect pulled out a handgun and demanded his money. The vendor gave him his cash, and the suspect left on foot, Enos said.
Robbery counts were added to Cervantes' booking charges, he said. Cervantes is being held in lieu of $100,000 bail, according to jail records.
Police believe there may be more victims, and asked them to call the Cathedral City Police Department at (760) 770-0300.
– City News Service.