Kicked and beaten, RPD officer hospitalized by home invasion suspect

RIVERSIDE — A Riverside police officer who responded to reports of an in-progress home invasion was hospitalized after trying to apprehend the alleged suspect early Sunday morning, March 24. The female officer, “who was knocked down and kicked several times as she was defending herself,” managed to put out an emergency request for priority assistance, as the man disappeared into the early morning darkness.

The incident led to an hours-long search and the alleged suspect was eventually apprehended around dawn after a sheriff’s bloodhound tracked him several blocks, from the 5900 block of Grand Ave., to the nearby Santa Ana River bottom.

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City of Riverside police officers were first alerted to a possible in-progress home burglary on Grand Ave. shortly after 3 a.m., Riverside Police Officer Ryan Railsback later explained.

Officials later determined the incident to be a home invasion robbery after learning that a woman in her 50s was home alone when she heard noises inside her home and found Lopez in a bedroom rifling through her drawers and stealing valuables, said Railsback said. When the woman confronted the suspect he pushed past her and fled the home.

“When the first officer arrived on scene, she saw the described suspect in front of the house,” explained RPD. As the lone officer made contact with the man, later identified as Roberto Lopez, 20, of Riverside, outside the residence and began a pat-down search, “the suspect pulled away and began fighting the officer,” according to Railsback.

“The officer was knocked down and kicked several times as she was defending herself, but was able to request backup as the suspect fled on foot.”

After hearing the officer’s emergency radio broadcast, officers converged on the area from around the city. Responding officers quickly established a perimeter around the area and immediately began searching for the suspect, after he was seen running from the backyard of a neighboring home and jumping several fences.

Although Lopez managed to temporarily elude capture, officers maintained their perimeter, while requesting additional resources to the scene. After finding an article of clothing left behind by the fleeing man, officers summoned a sheriff’s bloodhound team to assist with the ongoing search effort.

After arriving at the scene, K-9 “Raven” picked up the suspect’s scent and began tracking him through backyards into heavy brush adjacent to the Santa Ana River bottom. 

“As officers approached, the suspect attempted to flee once again but was eventually taken into custody while trying to get through heavy brush,” said RPD. Jail records indicate Lopez was arrested about 7:15 a.m., more than four hours after the incident and investigation began.

Lopez was positively identified as the suspect who burglarized the victim’s home and assaulted the officer. He was later booked into the Robert Presley Detention Center on suspicion of home invasion robbery and assault with a deadly weapon on a peace officer. Jail records indicate he remains in custody on $150,000 bail, and is scheduled to be arraigned at Riverside’s Hall Of Justice, March 27.

The injured officer was later taken to a local hospital for treatment of injuries that included “possible facial fractures,” according to Railsback. She was released from the hospital Sunday afternoon and is expected to fully recover.

Grateful Riverside police officers surround sheriff’s bloodhound “Raven” and her handler after the K-9 tracked an alleged home invasion robber who officers say beat and kicked an RPD officer before temporarily eluding capture. RPD photo


Contact the writer: trevor.rcns@gmail.com

Trevor Montgomery, 47, moved last year to the Intermountain area of Shasta County from Riverside County and runs Riverside County News Source and Shasta County News Source. Additionally, he writes for several other news organizations; including Riverside County based newspapers, Valley News, The Valley Chronicle, and Anza Valley Outlook; as well as Bonsall/Fallbrook Village News in San Diego County and Mountain Echo in Shasta County.

Trevor spent 10 years in the U.S. Army as an Orthopedic Specialist before joining the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department in 1998. He was medically retired after losing his leg, breaking his back, and suffering both spinal cord and brain injuries in an off-duty accident. (Click here to see segment of Discovery Channel documentary of Trevor’s accident.)

During his time with the sheriff’s department, Trevor worked at several different stations; including Robert Presley Detention Center, Southwest Station in Temecula, Hemet/Valle Vista Station, Ben Clark Public Safety Training Center, and Lake Elsinore Station; along with other locations.

Trevor’s assignments included Corrections, Patrol, DUI Enforcement, Boat and Personal Water-Craft based Lake Patrol, Off-Road Vehicle Enforcement, Problem Oriented Policing Team, and Personnel/Background Investigations. He finished his career while working as a Sex Crimes and Child Abuse Investigator and was a court-designated expert in child abuse and child sex-related crimes.

Trevor has been married for more than 28 years and was a foster parent to more than 60 children over 13 years. He is now an adoptive parent and his “fluid family” includes 13 children and 15 – but soon to be 16 – grandchildren.

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