Suspect in brutal holdup at ex-councilman’s home captured

SAN DIEGO (CNS) – An ex-con wanted in connection with a violent home-
invasion armed robbery at the home of Metropolitan Transit System Board
Chairman and former San Diego City Councilman Harry Mathis was in custody Thursday
after being injured in a high-speed road chase in Arizona.

Parolee Harvey Henry Duson, 45, crashed the rental car he was driving
while being pursued by authorities near the Nevada state line Wednesday
afternoon, SDPD Capt. Terry McManus said.

He was arrested and admitted to a Las Vegas hospital under guard for
treatment of non-life-threatening head and neck trauma, McManus said.

It was unclear how long it will be before the suspect can be extradited
to California to face prosecution for allegedly barging into Mathis' house on
Sandburg Avenue in University City last month with two other masked men.

They allegedly robbed, assaulted and terrorized Mathis, his wife and a
neighbor who happened by.

Duson — the only suspect in the crime identified so far — eluded
arrest this week after police got word that he had failed to show for a meeting
with a parole agent, claiming that his car had broken down on Interstate 8 in
La Mesa.

Shortly after 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, officers found the suspect's Pontiac
Grand Prix on the southern shoulder of the freeway near Severin Drive. They
took up positions around it and blocked off all but one eastbound lane in the
area, unsure if Duson remained in the sedan, which had heavily tinted windows.

Rush-hour traffic slowed to a crawl for miles to the west for about two
hours, until officers smashed the windows of the vehicle and pried open its
trunk, finding nobody inside.

The next day, a member of the Arizona Department of Public Safety pulled
over Duson for speeding. While the officer was running a computer check, the
parolee drove off.

Duson led authorities on a pursuit that crossed into Utah and Nevada and
back into Arizona at speeds exceeding 100 mph before the car he was driving
sideswiped another vehicle and overturned while he was trying to avoid a tire-
flattening spike strip officers had placed in his path.

San Diego police detectives were in Las Vegas this morning to gather
evidence as part of their investigation into the Jan. 11 armed robbery at
Mathis' house, the captain said.

About 9 that night, a man with a ski mask over his face confronted the
78-year-old Mathis moments after the victim returned home from an outing.

The armed intruder demanded cash. During an ensuing struggle, Mathis,
who has a concealed-firearm permit, responded by pulling his own pistol and
firing two shots at the robber, missing him. The assailant eventually wrested
away Mathis' handgun and beat the victim over the head with it.

A passing neighbor who heard the gunfire went to check on the Mathis
couple and was confronted by one of the masked men and dragged inside the
house. Inside, meanwhile, one of the bandits forced Mathis' 77-year-old wife at
knifepoint to open a safe before forcing her into a bathroom.

The gun-toting robbers then ordered Mathis to open a still-locked
compartment in the safe and give them money. The victim complied, but there was
no money inside the lockbox.

At that point, the intruders ordered Mathis and the neighbor into the
room where the woman already was being held, and told the three to remain there
or the house would be burned down.

After a few moments, the victims emerged and discovered that two small
blazes had been set in the residence, one in the garage and the other in the
kitchen. Firefighters arrived a short time later and were able to douse the
flames.

Medics took Mathis to a hospital for treatment of non-life-threatening
injuries to his head and face. His wife and neighbor were unhurt.

The victims suffered a “minimal amount” of property loss during the
holdup, according to McManus, who declined to specify what had been stolen.

Weeks of interviews and analysis of crime-scene evidence led detectives
to deem Duson as a suspect in the robbery on Tuesday afternoon, shortly before
the freeway standoff, McManus said.

Duson, whose last known residence was in El Cajon, was released from
state prison about a year ago, after serving half of a 32-year sentence he'd
received for an armed robbery in Lemon Grove. That August 1993 crime led to a
confrontation during which a deputy opened fire on Duson, wounding him, McManus
said.

Categories: KUSI