A couple was leaving a Santa Monica parking garage early Friday morning, when a man allegedly attacked them and took off with their SUV, officials said.
Just before 1:30 a.m., the couple was about to leave a parking garage on the 1500 block of 2nd Street, when a man approached them as they sat in a Jeep with the top down. The man, later identified as 30-year-old Preston B. Rochon, allegedly grabbed the woman and threatened to sexually assault her, according to a news release from the Santa Monica Police Department.
The male driver attempted to intervene, but during the physical altercation, Rochon jumped behind the wheel and took off, police said.
As the male victim chased after his own vehicle, Rochan reversed and ran over him, leaving him with “significant” injuries, officials said.
The female victim was later treated at a local hospital for minor injuries.
A short time later, officers arrested Rochon, who is originally from Texas, after they say he crashed into a barricade in front of the Santa Monica Pier.
“This incident is an anomaly but this incident hits the heartstrings,” Santa Monica Councilman Phil Brock said to KTLA.
Rochon was booked on suspicion of attempted murder, carjacking, assault with a deadly weapon, and assault to commit a sexual act, according to police.
“My information is that he was unhoused and on drugs at the time,” Brock said, adding that the unhoused population in the city is growing. “The situation of course in Santa Monica is getting worse because as L.A. and Venice try to make their situation better, a lot of those people are migrating into Santa Monica.”
A recently approved city budget has funding designated for services to respond to the growing homelessness crisis, Brock said, including a community resource unit for the Santa Monica Fire Department to address health issues and an L.A. County mental health unit.
“But even that is not enough. We need double the resources we have. We need the county, we need the state, we need the federal government to step up,” he added. “We need more aid for the homeless population in Santa Monica.”
Anyone with additional information regarding the July 2 incident is asked to contact Detective Burciaga at 310-458-8932 or the department’s 24-hour line at 310-458-8427.