A terrifying ordeal has a Moreno Valley neighborhood on edge after two women escaped from allegedly being held hostage and tortured by a convicted felon.
The incident took place inside 53-year-old Gilberto Puga’s home, according to the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department.
Arrest documents showed Puga called authorities on May 14 to report two women who were burglarizing his home.
Moments later, dispatch received another call from two women at his home screaming for help.
When deputies arrived, the two women were seen walking away from Puga’s residence. Investigators discovered the women had been locked inside Puga’s home against their will and tortured, according to arrest documents.
They had not burglarized Puga’s home as he initially claimed, authorities said. Puga left his home but was arrested the next day in Hemet.
“It didn’t really surprise me because allegedly this guy has a lot of other priors,” said neighbor Eddie De Leon.
Many neighbors who recognize Puga said he’s been terrorizing the neighborhood for at least a year. De Leon has a restraining order against Puga after he said the man approached his 18-year-old daughter in Feb. 2022.
“He pulls up and blocks her in our driveway,” said De Leon. “He comes up and starts telling her how pretty she was and because it was also Valentine’s Day weekend, that if she doesn’t have a date, he’d love to take her out on a date.”
A day after that incident, De Leon claims his home doorbell camera captured Puga standing in their front yard around 2:30 a.m. KTLA is awaiting authorities’ confirmation that the man in the video is indeed Puga.
De Leon isn’t the only neighbor with a restraining order against the suspect.
“He said he was going to come and kill me, he was going to kill everyone in the house, he was going to get people from L.A. to come and shoot my house,” recalls Sammy, a neighbor.
Sammy’s family said their surveillance camera has captured Puga on their property multiple times.
“He would break the side fence trying to get in,” said Eli, a neighbor. “He would let my dogs out and then say that they got out, so we would leave the house and go look for them and he would try to sneak into the backyard.”
A doorbell camera shared by the family captured video of an angry man, allegedly Puga, yelling, “You just turn on me with that gun mother****** you watch. I’m going to kill all you mother*******.”
Sammy and Eli’s mother, Linda Garcia, said Puga jumped their fence last year. She called authorities for help, but said Puga wasn’t arrested despite authorities knowing who he was.
“He was upset that we didn’t want to be his friend, I think, because we weren’t hanging out,” said Linda. “I felt very weak and vulnerable so my boys and I took self-defense classes, set up more cameras.”
Puga was arrested on several charges including violating personal liberty, unlawfully possessing a firearm, unlawfully possessing paraphernalia and assault with a stun gun and less lethal weapon.
According to a complaint filed, Puga is accused of locking the two women in his enclosed patio for over 30 minutes and of using a stun gun on them several times.
The Riverside County District Attorney’s Office said there are no charges filed for torture or false imprisonment at this time, but that could change throughout the investigation.