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Santa Cruz police are searching for a gang member suspected of involvement in a home invasion robbery that ended in a fight Wednesday morning with the terrified residents. Esteban Lopez, 22, is believed to have fled the scene of the robbery on the 500 block of Poplar Ave. Wednesday around 4:20 a.m., and has not yet been located, police said Friday.
The victims in the home invasion robbery were awakened early Wednesday by two males with their faces covered who demanded cash, Santa Cruz police Deputy Chief Steve Clark said. One of the suspects held a screwdriver, the other a decorative sword taken from inside the home, Clark said. Both suspects demanded cash and tried and failed to bind the couple with duct tape they found in the home that was old and brittle, Clark said.
They then resorted to tying the couple with an electrical cord, Clark said. After the two intruders learned there were children in the home, they allegedly threatened to harm them, police said. At that point, the adult residents freed themselves and fought with the suspects for some time before one of the children called 911 at about 4:25 a.m., police said.
The residents were able to hold down one suspect in their front yard until officers arrived, but the other escaped with some valuables, Clark said. Cuactemoc Xilonzochilt-Zamora, 28, of Santa Cruz, was arrested on suspicion of robbery, burglary, false imprisonment, possession of methamphetamine and assault with a deadly weapon and booked him into the Santa Cruz County Jail.
Lopez, believed to be the second suspect, is a confirmed “Beach Flats” Sureno gang member with an extensive history of law enforcement contact, police said. He has not been seen at his home, work or other haunts since the robbery. Lopez is described as a Hispanic male, around 5 feet 7 inches tall and 130 pounds.
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