Transient Faces 19 Criminal Counts in Pacific Palisades Crime Spree That Ended in Malibu

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A white SUV that was allegedly carjacked by Brian Cruz was towed from the scene where it crashed in Malibu on Aug. 11, 2014. (Credit: KTLA)

A 44-year-old homeless man was charged with kidnapping, carjacking and other offenses Wednesday in connection with a 45-minute crime spree that began in Pacific Palisades and ended in Malibu.

Brian Thomas Cruz faces 19 counts, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced. His arraignment was expected Thursday at the Airport Courthouse.

Cruz allegedly broke in a woman’s apartment in Pacific Palisades on Monday morning and, armed with a box cutter, forced her to drive him en route to the San Fernando Valley, Los Angeles Police Department officials had said.

In fear for her life, the woman purposefully crashed her car near Palisades Charter High School. Cruz allegedly then carjacked a teacher at the school, crashing into several other vehicles.

Abandoning the second carjacked vehicle, he broke into another home and demanded a vehicle from a third woman, according to prosecutors. He allegedly crashed that car into other vehicles, ran a red light and then struck a car, leaving its two people seriously injured.

About 45 minutes after the crime spree began, Cruz was hospitalized and taken into custody by Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department deputies at the scene of the final crash, near Pacific Coast Highway and Malibu Canyon Road.

Cruz was charged with the following: four felony counts of assault with a deadly weapon, an automobile; three counts of carjacking; two counts each of first-degree burglary while a person present, second-degree robbery, criminal threats, reckless driving causing a bone fracture; and one count each of kidnapping and false imprisonment by violence.

He was also charged with two misdemeanor counts of hit-and-run driving with allegations that a knife was used.

He has prior convictions for residential burglary, robbery and forcible rape between 1989 and 1995, according to the DA’s office.

Prosecutors planned to ask that bail be set at $2.85 million.

Cruz could face life in prison if convicted as charged.

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