Armed robbery suspect charged with 18 felony offenses
A Yuma man suspected in a string of robberies was charged with 18 felonies Monday after his arrest last week for allegedly following a woman from her workplace with the intention of robbing her.
A criminal complaint was filed Monday in Yuma Justice Court against 42-year-old Dennis Aguerro.
Appearing before Justice of the Peace Greg Stewart for his arraignment, Aguerro was informed that he was being charged with six counts of aggravated robbery, four counts of armed robbery, two counts of attempted armed robbery, two counts of attempted aggravated assault, two counts of aggravated robbery, one count of theft and one count of conspiracy to commit armed robbery.
In addition to appointing the Yuma County Public Defender's Office to represent Aguerro, the judge also scheduled his next court date — a preliminary hearing for 4 p.m. July 26.
Prosecutor Nathaniel Sorenson of the Yuma County Attorney's Office also attended the hearing and addressed the court on the matter of Aguerro's bond, requesting that it remain at the $1.5 million cash-only previously set, which the judge later agreed to do.
“This man and his co-defendant went to six different businesses to steal money from them. The way they did that is (Aguerro) would drive a car with his 16-year-old co-defendant, and send the 16-year-old into the store with a shotgun, where the 16-year-old would proceed to threaten to kill people if they did not provided him with the money he wanted,” Sorenson said. “He would also take a bottle of liquor from the store's shelf. He would then take the money, take the liquor and go back out to the car.”
Sorenson also told the court that when Aguerro and his co-defendant were caught, officers found a detailed four-to-five page diagram of a home in Somerton that included a list of all the items that were to be stolen and where the guns and safes were located.
“It appears that either the defendant or co-defendant were preparing to execute this home burglary or have already done so, but it has not been connected to this case yet,” Sorenson said.
According to YPD, shortly before midnight Wednesday, a woman employed in the 1300 block of South 4th Avenue closed the business and began driving home. She reportedly became aware that she was being tailed by a white Dodge Charger, and called 911 at about 11:47 p.m.
Officers began searching for the vehicle, which was located driving in the 3100 block of 4th Avenue. After the driver of the Charger pulled over in compliance with a police traffic stop, officers spoke with Aguerro and the teen boy, and reportedly gained verbal consent to search the vehicle.
During their search, officers allegedly found a shotgun, a black ski mask and rubber gloves inside the vehicle.
Aguerro and the teen were arrested and taken to police headquarters for questioning.
During their interviews, the two were questioned about five unsolved armed robberies spanning from April 23 to May 28.
The first robbery the two are suspected in happened April 23 at Tacos Mi Rancho, 188 S. 4th Ave. About 9:30 p.m., a male armed with a small handgun attempted to enter the restaurant through a side door, but was frightened off by an employee. The person was last seen running on foot westbound on 2nd Street from the business. He did not enter the business, and no money was taken.
At about 9:55 p.m. the same night, a male armed with a shotgun and wearing a black ski mask and a black long-sleeved sweatshirt entered CMS Market, at 2090 W. 8th St., and demanded money and a bottle of alcohol from the clerks. After taking the money, the robber fled on foot.
Witnesses on site said the robber was accompanied by a second person who remained outside the store during the robbery.
Then at about 10:33 p.m., a male armed with a shotgun and wearing a black ski mask and a black long-sleeved sweatshirt entered R.C. Liquor, 101 E. 24th St., and demanded money and a bottle of alcohol from the clerks. After being given money, the robber fled on foot.
Detectives also believe Aguerro and the teen boy are connected with two other armed robberies – one on May 7th at 4th Avenue Liquor, 1111 S. 4th Ave., and the second on May 28 at Eighth Street Drive-In Liquor, 1100 W. 8th St.
James Gilbert can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 539-6854. Find him on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/YSJamesGilbert or on Twitter @YSJamesGilbert.