The masked intruders who broke into two Santa Rosa-area homes early Thursday morning, killing one man, may have been looking for marijuana that could be sold on the East Coast at a premium, authorities said Friday.
Detectives haven’t determined a motive for the robberies, but the connection to cannabis is a strong possibility, Sonoma County Sheriff’s Sgt. Spencer Crum said. Their demands during the pre-dawn robberies were clear: marijuana and cash, according to Crum.
The Sheriff’s Office released the names of the five suspects Friday and the Santa Rosa businessman who was killed in his home.
Jose Luis Torres, 54, owned the Melcon Lane residence off Todd Road southwest of Santa Rosa with his wife, Adriana Pereyra-Torres, according to Sonoma County property records. The couple also own and operate Advance Appliance Services, a Santa Rosa-area appliance repair business.
The five suspects forced their way into the home at 6:45 a.m. with Torres and his family inside. He was shot multiple times, according to initial dispatch reports. The Sheriff’s Office hasn’t confirmed the number of shots fired or specified how many times Torres was hit.
First responders performed CPR on Torres but he died of his wounds at the house, the Sheriff’s Office said.
Deputies found evidence of pot cultivation and sales at the home, Crum said. The suspects also stole weapons from the Melcon Lane residence, he said.
A complaint was lodged with the Sonoma County Permit and Resources Management Department about Torres’ property in October, alleging it appeared there were unpermitted cargo containers, a greenhouse and cannabis cultivation on site, according to a department spokeswoman.
County staff saw no marijuana on the property during an inspection in November. Yet last month an application for permits to legitimize the structures on the property was submitted.
Torres’ family could not be reached for comment Friday. A man who identified himself Thursday as the victim’s son declined to comment as he stood in a driveway down the street from his family’s home.
Investigators said the five suspects began the day at 4:22 a.m. by storming into a home 5 miles to the north on the 1900 block of Fulton Road — not far from the Northwest Prep Charter School on Piner Road.
A 42-year-old man at the home was shot in the arm, according to authorities and witnesses. He was taken to the hospital and was expected to survive.
His family members, including three children from the ages of 9 to 18, described being pistol-whipped and tied up with duct tape while the intruders demanded marijuana and money. No evidence of drugs or other illicit activity was found at the home, Crum said. It was unclear why the house was targeted.
Investigators are piecing together the connections between the four men arrested Thursday and the woman who remained at large.
Amber Hembree, 20, of Richmond, Virginia, an alleged Crip gang member, was still on the run Friday and considered armed and dangerous, according to authorities.
The four men arrested Thursday were Mussie Himed, 27, of Santa Rosa; Tyrone Mcrae, 25, of Jackson, Mississippi; Jonathan Jackson, 19, of Richmond Hill, New York; and David Ealey, 23, of Richmond, Virginia, according to the Sheriff’s Office.
They were all held in the Sonoma County Jail without bail on suspicion of murder, robbery, kidnapping and false imprisonment.
Three of the men were arrested after a Vallejo car chase ended in a crash that sent two other people to the hospital for minor injuries around 9 a.m. Thursday, Crum said.
Mcrae was taken into custody around 5 p.m. in Santa Rosa at a Motel 6 on Cleveland Avenue. He is suspected of eluding a SWAT team searching Vallejo on Thursday by paying a stranger for a ride to Santa Rosa, Crum said.
A photo on Ealey’s Facebook account shows him sitting in a car flashing a Crip gang hand sign with a pile of cash on his lap, but authorities would not comment on gang ties beyond Hembree’s alleged affiliation. She is believed to be another suspect’s girlfriend, Crum said.
Crum would not say how long the four people from the East Coast had been in California. Himed, the one suspect from Santa Rosa, was wanted on a felony warrant at the time of his arrest Thursday and has a history of transporting marijuana.
Himed was arrested in Iowa for possession of marijuana with the intent to deliver in October 2013, Dallas County District Attorney Wayne Reisetter said from Iowa. He was released from jail in August 2014, but was later extradited from Sonoma County Jail back to Iowa for violating the terms of his probation in late 2016.
The 27-year-old was arrested in Sonoma County twice over the past five months, according to court records. He was arrested in September for suspected possession of a stolen ID and another time in October for suspected felony possession of drugs and a firearm.
Detectives with the Sheriff’s Office have leads on why the two Santa Rosa-area homes were targeted, but are not releasing that information as the investigation is ongoing, Crum said.
Staff Writers Paul Payne and Christi Warren contributed to this story. You can reach Staff Writer Nick Rahaim at 707-521-5203 or email@example.com.