General Crime

Four Teens Arrested In Theft Of Cellphone And Hit-and-Run In Santa Cruz

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Four teens suspected of taking part in a robbery of a cellphone that ended in a hit-and-run injury to a Santa Cruz woman early Saturday have been arrested, a deputy police chief said today.

Shortly after midnight Saturday, Santa Cruz police answered a report of a disturbance by a group of people in their late teens in the 1500 block of Laurent Street, Deputy police Chief Steve Clark said.

The four teens, who had just left a party in Aptos and were looking for another party in Santa Cruz, were confronted by a 57-year-old female resident who started taking photos of them on her cellphone, according to Clark.

The teens objected to her actions, assaulted her, took her phone and tried to smash it but the woman was able to retrieve it and resumed taking pictures of the teens after they entered a car, Clark said.

The teens left the area in the car but decided to return to Laurent Street to take the woman’s phone, fearing that their photos would be posted on a social media website, according to police.

The driver of the car, Kyla Bell-Bernard, 18, of the Freedom area of Santa Cruz County, drove the car back to the street and one of the passengers reached out and grabbed the victim’s phone, pulling it and the woman’s arm into the car, Clark said.

The woman fell to the ground and the car drove away, running over the victim’s arm and causing a compound fracture. Police believe that the suspects then threw the woman’s phone into the ocean, Clark said.

Detectives eventually tracked down the four teens and on Monday, arrested Bell-Bernard, Cassie McCabe, 18, of Soquel in unincorporated Santa Cruz County, Esabella Gentile-Montgomery, 19, and Riley Cameron, 18, both of Santa Cruz, on suspicion of robbery and conspiracy, police said.

Bell-Bernard was also arrested on suspicion of felony hit-and-run for being the driver of the car, which belonged to McCabe’s family, according to Clark.

Police said that Gentile-Montgomery and Cameron played active roles in the conspiracy to return to Laurent Street to take the victim’s phone and dispose of it, Clark said.

The victim is recovering from her injuries, he said.

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