Pepper spray robber taken into custody, could be linked to other incidents

SAN DIEGO (CNS) – A young man was in custody Thursday accused of spraying an off-duty California Highway Patrol officer in the face with pepper spray in an attempt to rob the lawman in Old Town, and police were investigating whether the alleged crime was linked to series of similar hold-ups.

Shortly after 10:30 p.m. Wednesday, the off-duty officer, who was out of uniform, was approached by three men at Juan and Taylor streets, according to San Diego police Officer David Stafford.

One of the suspects — later identified as 21-year-old Angel Blanco — asked the officer for the time and then sprayed him with peppery spray while he was distracted, Stafford said, nothing that the assailant simultaneously demanded cash.

The officer drew his service weapon and arrested Blanco, Stafford said. The other two suspects got away on foot.

Robbery detectives were investigating whether the incident was part of crime binge that began about an hour and a half earlier in northern Clairemont.

Shortly before 9 p.m. on Wednesday, two male suspects walked up to a male pedestrian and sprayed him in the face with an unknown substance at Clairemont Mesa Boulevard and Diane Avenue, Stafford said, noting that the suspects took an mp3 player from the victim.

Around 10 p.m., a lone suspect entered the AT&T building at 1060 University Ave. in Hillcrest and sprayed an employee in the face with pepper spray, Stafford said. The suspect then fled with an undisclosed amount of cash.

About 20 minutes later, two suspects got out of a black four-door sedan in the 2400 block of Jefferson Street in Old Town and walked up to a 38-year- old man, sprayed him in the face with pepper spray and demanded cash, according to Stafford.

The victim refused to comply and was sprayed a second time before the suspects fled without any cash or property from the victim, Stafford said.

No serious injuries were reported.

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