Two sisters who went to a Sherman Oaks nail salon for a morning manicure to celebrate a birthday ended up fighting back against an attacker who assaulted them randomly less than two hours after committing a violent carjacking, Los Angeles police said Thursday.
The attack on the sisters occurred about 10 a.m. Wednesday, after they entered a salon in the 13600 block of Burbank Boulevard, LAPD Capt. Lillian Carranza said at a news conference.
The siblings went into the business just as the owner opened the salon, and the assailant went inside after the women, the captain said.
"What followed can only be described as a senseless act of violence," Carranza said. The sisters "fought for their life and did everything humanly possible to protect each other."
The sisters, Melda and Virginia Martinez Bojorquez, took turns fighting back against the man for some six minutes, police said.
"There was no time to be scared," said Carranza, translating from Spanish for the sisters.
Police released surveillance video that shows the sisters battling the attacker. One sister can be seen throwing a chair at him.
Meanwhile, the salon owner ran into the next-door business, a wine and spirits store, and began shouting for help in Armenian. Rene Javier Solis, an employee at the store, said he understood "he's going to kill them," and sprinted into the salon.
But when Solis got there, the attacker gave up. He was identified as 25-year-old Chatsworth resident Gustavo Aranda.
"They were battling each other with chairs," Solis said. "I saw how badly wounded he was. ... I just looked over to them and I was like, 'Wow, I'm impressed.'"
Aranda mumbled something like "just kill me now," Solis said.
Solis, who called the sisters "heroes," held Aranda down until officers arrived. One of the police investigators then heard a Los Angeles Police Department radio broadcast about an earlier carjacking and realized the description of the carjacker matched Aranda, including his clothing.
Before the salon incident, Aranda stole a gray 2007 Toyota 4Runner, which still has not been recovered, Carranza said.
The vehicle, stolen from the 14400 block of Gilmore Street in Van Nuys about 8:25 a.m., has a California license plate of 6BSG932.
During the carjacking, Aranda allegedly approached the victim, shouting obscenities. He chased the man, hitting him and forcing him to the ground, then taking his keys from his pocket.
As with the nail salon incident, the attacker didn't have a weapon, police said.
LAPD was asking for help finding the vehicle, but by early evening, Carranza said the SUV was discovered at Oxnard Street and Van Nuys Boulevard — less than a mile from where it was stolen.
That's also about the same place where Aranda allegedly attacked another random stranger, a man "just walking down the street," Carranza said.
"The suspect parked the stolen vehicle, walked behind the victim, and once again, without provocation, he started beating on the victim," she said.
Then, he jumped onto the side of a moving vehicle, police said. About an hour later, he showed up to the nail salon about two miles away, police said.
The victims injured were all expected to recover, while Aranda himself was also apparently injured, according to at least one eyewitness account. Solis said he had a gash and was bleeding profusely before authorities arrived.
Earlier, before discovering the additional attack on a man near Oxnard Street and Van Nuys Boulevard, LAPD officials said they suspected Aranda had possibly committed other crimes.
"We suspect that he's gone on a crime spree," Carranza said. "We would like to know what happened in those two hours between the carjacking and the attack on the two sisters."
Aranda was arrested on suspicion of robbery and was being held on $150,000 bail.
He is described by LAPD as Caucasian, with brown hair and a beard, 5 feet 10 inches tall and 160 pounds. Police said at the time of his arrest he wore a blue beanie, black shirt, light blue jeans and blue tennis shoes.
Carranza said police have identified another victim, but no details were available on that by early evening.
Police are looking for others who may have encountered Aranda on the "crime spree." Anyone with information is asked to call LAPD detectives Barba or Cheun at 818-374-0081.