Two robbers Wednesday morning stormed a home on the southwestern outskirts of Santa Rosa, tying up a male occupant and making off with an unknown amount of cannabis, the latest in a spate of violent Sonoma County home invasions this year by intruders seeking to steal marijuana.
The coordinated assault came just before 9:30 a.m. on quiet residential street off Todd Lane, less than 2 miles from where a homeowner was shot and killed in February by masked gunmen demanding cash and pot.
A man came to the front door of a small blue house in the 3300 block of Primrose Court, while a second man entered the back door with a handgun, according to the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office.
The male occupant inside the home was tied up and left uninjured as the robbers stole a load of cannabis and fled in a newer model large gray van with chrome above the rear window and visible roof racks, said Sgt. Spencer Crum. At least one other person was home at the time of the robbery.
The suspects were described as tall, thin Hispanic men in their 30s, and were considered armed and dangerous, Crum said. Their whereabouts remained unknown Wednesday evening, and no other physical description was given.
Scanner reports at the time indicated they may have fled with as much as 100 pounds of marijuana, but Crum said that detail could not be confirmed.
The Primrose Court property abuts Bellevue Elementary School property. Classes were in session when the armed robbery took place about 100 yards away.
The violence marked another case of pot-related violence in Sonoma County, with seven home invasions in four separate cases reported so far this year. Two of the invasions, including Wednesday’s, have occurred in the unincorporated neighborhood just beyond Santa Rosa’s southern boundary.
“We stand with the neighboring people. We understand. We understand and we are equally as concerned,” Crum said of the rash of pot-related violence.
In the last incident off Todd Road, family members at a home off Melcon Way home were tied up by masked intruders seeking pot and cash. They shot and killed the homeowner, Jose Luis Torres, 54, the owner of a local appliance repair business, and made off with weapons from the home. Deputies observed evidence of cannabis cultivation and sales at the house.
Earlier that same morning, Feb. 8, the same group had burst into a home 5 miles to the north on the 1900 block of Fulton Road, where a 42-year-old father was shot in the arm and his family members, including children ages 9 to 18, were pistol-whipped and tied up with duct tape. The intruders demanded marijuana and money, but no evidence of drugs or other illicit activity was found at the home, Crum said at the time.
Four of the five suspects in that case were later arrested. Authorities said they were seeking to sell Sonoma County cannabis at a premium on the East Coast. A fifth suspect remains at large.
A neighbor who has lived on Primrose Court for more than two decades and declined to give his name, said a woman who lived in the home had been growing large amounts of cannabis inside a converted garage for at least 10 years. The neighbor did not hear the reported robbery, but had observed frequent traffic coming to the home, including vehicles with out-of-state license plates and believed sales might have been conducted.