Armed burglar stopped by Army vet gets three years

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By EMRY DINMAN

Staff Writer

MOSES LAKE - A Moses Lake man who robbed the same home twice in the span of 24 hours in February and was stopped the second time when the owner, a U.S. Army veteran, wrestled him to the ground, was sentenced to three years in prison Monday.

Luis Hernandez Santa Cruz, 27, pleaded guilty last week to first-degree burglary while armed with a deadly weapon and theft of a firearm. He was sentenced to 36 months in state prison and 18 months of community custody after his release.

Army vet Katlyn Lopez said in an interview in March that he returned home Feb. 26 to discover his home in the 1000 block of Lowry Street had been broken into and a pistol, shotgun and $3,000 diamond ring had been stolen.

Though Lopez reported the crime, he was certain he would never see many of the stolen objects again.

But less than 24 hours later, the burglar returned for seconds — and this time, Lopez came home while the burglar was still in his living room.

When Lopez attempted to open the door, something appeared to be blocking it from the inside. With a shove, Lopez pushed the door open and moved what turned out to be his couch, which had been slid in front of the entrance, to see Luis Hernandez Santa Cruz, 27, in his living room.

Lopez moved through the gap in the door and vaulted over his couch to approach the burglar, only to realize at close proximity that Hernandez Santa Cruz was armed with a pistol; Lopez’ pistol, stolen from the house just a day earlier.

Having served in the Army for three years, Lopez said he is uncertain whether it was his military training kicking in or just anger over being robbed twice in the span of 24 hours that caused him to leap into action. Whatever it was, Lopez said he grabbed the burglar by the coat collar — a Carhartt coat that had also been stolen from Lopez in the previous robbery — and used his other hand to grab the stolen pistol.

With a pistol in one hand, Lopez said he dragged Hernandez Santa Cruz out of the house and toward Lopez’ car, where his phone was still attached to a charging cable. After Lopez managed to retrieve his phone and dialed 911, Hernandez Santa Cruz attempted to flee but was wrestled to the icy ground by Lopez, Lopez said.

dispatch operators reportedly heard the fray between the two as Lopez called out his address and informed responding officers that an ongoing altercation was underway. When police finally arrived, they found the burglar pinned to the ground by Lopez, according to law enforcement.

Hernandez Santa Cruz allegedly tried to flee when law enforcement arrived, but was apprehended and booked into the Grant County Jail on charges of first-degree burglary, second-degree possession of stolen property and possession of a stolen firearm. The state ultimately added a theft of a firearm charge and dropped both the second-degree possession of stolen property and possession of a stolen firearm charges.

Emry Dinman can be reached via email at edinman@columbiabasinherald.com

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