Local News

Tuesday, Aug 27 2013 05:41 PM

One of two defendants in March robbery, crash sentenced

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    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    Rene Arturo Gomez was sentenced for a March robbery in Mettler.

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BY JASON KOTOWSKI Californian staff writer jkotowski@bakersfield.com

Convicted robber Rene Arturo Gomez was sentenced to two years in prison Tuesday morning for his role in a wild March crime spree.

Gomez, 28, made no comment during the sentencing held in Department 1 of Kern County Superior Court.

Gomez pleaded no contest in July to robbery, and a count of hit and run resulting injury was dismissed.

Kern County Sheriff's Office reports filed in court say Gomez and Steven Lujan robbed the Freeway Express Market in Mettler on March 1. The two stole more than $10,000 from the market.

Lujan turned toward the cashier as he left, pointed a gun at her head and pulled the trigger multiple times, but the gun didn't fire, the reports say. Lujan and Gomez drove off and eventually came to a sparsely populated area southwest of Arvin.

They tried to pass another vehicle but collided with it. Both vehicles flipped several times on North Rancho Drive just north of Teale Road, according to the reports. The mother driving the other vehicle suffered only minor injuries, and her baby -- who was strapped in a car seat -- was uninjured.

Gomez and Lujan ran into nearby orchards. Gomez was arrested a few days later.

Lujan was arrested the same day as the robbery, but authorities say he raised more havoc before being taken into custody.

The reports say Lujan crossed a canal, stripped to his underwear and ran to a nearby house. There he assaulted an elderly man, at one point striking him with the butt of a shotgun he found in the home.

Lujan dragged the man into a bedroom, put the shotgun to his head and tried pulling the trigger several times, the reports say, but it wouldn't fire.

Then Lujan, who later told deputies he'd been using heroin for months, pulled the man's clothes off and fondled him, according to the reports. The victim pushed Lujan's hand away, and Lujan apologized and cried.

Lujan left the room and the victim left the bedroom through a door at the back. He yelled for help and told his daughter-in-law, who lives on another house on the property, to call 911.

The man's son arrived home at this point, armed himself with a gun and saw Lujan trying to steal his pickup.

Lujan raised the shotgun, and the son fired and hit the suspect from about 15 feet away. Deputies in a helicopter who had responded to reports of the robbery and crash witnessed the shooting, landed and arrested Lujan.

Lujan is charged with offenses including robbery, attempted murder and sexual battery and is being held on $880,000 bail.

His next court hearing is scheduled for Sept. 19.

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