Investigators Monday turned to the public for help in identifying a man who robbed a Hemet resident on Christmas Day and dragged the victim as he attempted to hang on to the suspect’s car as it sped away, leaving him with major head trauma.
Hemet police Sgt. Gabriel Gomez said that about 9 a.m. on Dec. 25, the 29-year-old victim was in the 100 block of South Franklin Street when he was approached by a man in his 20s, who stepped out of an early 2000s model black Ford Taurus and asked about a camera that he was carrying.
Before the victim could answer, the suspect snatched the camera and jumped into his sedan, according to Gomez.
“The victim attempted to hold on to the suspect vehicle and was dragged for several blocks,” the sergeant said. “The victim sustained a serious head injury.”
The man was left lying in the 600 block of East Acacia Avenue, where patrol officers and paramedics came to his aid a few minutes later, Gomez said. The victim was taken to Riverside University Medical Center in Moreno Valley and is now in recovery.
The victim’s brother identified him as Robbie Valenzuela.
Chris Valenzuela told NBC4 his brother is “very, very smart” and loves science and agriculture.
“I don’t know if he’s going to be able to walk,” Chris Valenzuela said of his brother. “I don’t know if he’s going to be able to see. I don’t know how we’re going to get through this as a family right now. This is hard.”
Valenzuela told the station his brother was with his wife and mother that morning, taking pictures with the newly acquired camera — a $1,200 Canon — when the suspect drove up and started a conversation.
“So Robbie went up and he (the suspect) asked if he could take some photos and videos of his recording studio, and Robbie was saying, yeah, and started showing him some of the photos he was taking. And that’s when the guy grabbed his camera.”
Gomez said efforts to locate the Ford Taurus have been unsuccessful. The four-door sedan has “distinct wheels,” a chrome emblem on the front fender and possible damage to the driver’s side of the fender, around the headlight, he said.
Anyone with information was urged to contact the police department at 951-765-2400, or call the We Tip Hotline, 866-640-8477.