SANTA MONICA (CBSLA) - A man and woman were victims of a carjacking, attempted murder and sexual assault Friday in an incident that began in a downtown Santa Monica parking structure.
At approximately 1:20 a.m., the Santa Monica Public Safety Dispatch Center received calls regarding a traffic collision at the entrance to the Santa Monica Pier. When officers arrived at the scene, a witness provided information regarding the driver, who had exited the vehicle and walked away on Ocean Avenue.
Officers also learned that the same vehicle was suspected in a hit and run incident in the 100 block of Colorado Boulevard prior to crashing into the barricade at the pier and that the vehicle had been carjacked at a downtown parking structure.
Preston B. Rochon, 30, originally from Texas, who a police spokesman said is an unhoused person, approached a man and woman in the downtown parking structure, attempted to grab the woman out of what is reportedly a Jeep with no top and threatened to rape her. At this point, the male victim intervened.
A physical altercation ensued and Rochon allegedly took the man's vehicle. When the man attempted to chase, Rochon is suspected of reversing and running the male victim over before crashing into the barricade at the pier.
The male victim was transported to a local hospital with significant injuries, though at the time of his release was reported to be in stable condition. The female victim was later treated at a local hospital for minor injuries.
Police located Rochon a short distance from the crash site. The 30-year-old was arrested and booked for attempted homicide, assault with a deadly weapon, carjacking and assault to commit a sexual act.
"This incident tears my heart apart," Councilman Phil Brock said, adding that he believes problems with the unhoused in Venice have spilled over into Santa Monica.
In the last two weeks, sources tell CBSLA's Laurie Perez that two homeless people have overdosed and died in the city, and another unhoused man was involved in a fight that ended with a man dead.
Brock has been pushing for greater public safety and more homeless services as issues connected to the homelessness crisis have reached a fever pitch.
"We have to combine the need to make sure our streets, alleys, parks are safe here, and parking structures in this case, with also the need to make sure our unhoused population get into housing, get the services they need," Brock said.
City stats estimate there are around 1,000 people living on the streets of Sant Monica.
According to Brock, a budget approved just last month has money for a new mental health team that will hit the streets and a special fire department unit that that will engage with the unhoused population. However, the councilman said he doesn't think it will be enough.
"The help they need also needs to be provided in Jackson, Mississippi, and Charlotte, North Carolina, and Des Moines, Iowa. Their cities have to provide help too. Right now it seems it's all on Santa Monica, Los Angeles and LA County and we can't do enough quickly enough to solve the problems in our cities," Brock said.
Anyone with information regarding this incident is urged to contact Detective Burciga with the Criminal Investigations Division at 310-458-8932 or the Santa Monica Department's Watch Commander (24 hours a day) at 310-458-8437.
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