Victims of Home Invasion Ask for Help ID’ing Getaway Vehicle

It was sometime around 6am Monday—several hours after Rodel and Erika Cruzet fell asleep watching movies on the couch—when the intruders crashed through the front door of the couple’s Willow Glen home.

Rodel, who’d migrated to the bedroom sometime around midnight, says he was roused by a resounding thunk and the sound of his wife’s bloodcurdling screams.

“I wasn’t sure what was going on at first,” Rodel, 31, says. “Sometimes my wife has nightmares, so she’ll scream in the middle of the night. But this was different. My wife screamed so hard—the pitch was so high and long—that I knew something was wrong.”

Then, Rodel says he heard the voices of two men.

“The only thing I thought was that I got to get my firearm,” Rodel recounts.

As he went down the hallway toward the gun safe, he says he saw from the corner of his eye that one of the intruders was holding his wife to the floor at gunpoint.

“I see these guys on my right side, but my gun’s on my left,” he says, “so I rushed into the other room, grabbed my gun, put my magazine in, cocked it … and at the same time, they’re yelling, ‘I got your girl! I got your girl!’”

The intruders busted through a solid wood front door to get into the house. (Photo courtesy of Rodel Cruzet)

Rodel says he was ready to fire his weapon but didn’t want to accidentally hit his wife. So, he charged into the room where his wife was pinned to the floor at gunpoint.

“I rushed them,” he says, “and they ran the opposite way, out the door.”

It was hard to describe the appearance of the intruders—except that they were Hispanic males whose faces were obscured with face coverings. But Rodel says the getaway car was caught on a next-door neighbor’s security camera. While footage is grainy, Rodel says it appears to be a dark-colored four-door Mercedes E-350, maybe with custom rims.

San Jose police are investigating the incident but have not put out a call for the public’s help identifying the suspects. SJPD spokesman Sgt. Enrique Garcia said that officers got a call about the incident at about 6:24am that day.

“Officers responded to a burglary-home invasion at a residence in the 600 block of Minnesota Avenue in San Jose,” he said. “Two suspects, one armed with a handgun, forced entry into the occupied residence and confronted the victims. The suspects fled the scene after one of the victims brandished a handgun at the suspects.”

The suspects are described as Latino men wearing black baseball hats and masks.

The Cruzets say they’re not sure what motivated the intruders to target them, but it might’ve  been the fact that they have nine French bulldogs, which fetch anywhere from $5,000 to $10,000 from buyers.

A grainy image of the intruders' getaway car is the only lead the couple has.

Erika, 30, has been a professional breeder for the past few years, and while she’s normally very careful about vetting clients, she’s having second thoughts about inviting any prospective buyers to her house again.

“I don’t tell just anybody where I live,” Erika says. “I only give my address to clients who I’ve already been talking to and who can confirm that they’re coming, which makes me think that someone I had over was working with these guys.”

The couple has installed new security cameras and a steel screen door in the wake of the incident. Family members and friends have helped them pay for repairs. Erika, whose voice is still hoarse from screaming that Monday morning, says she’ll be seeing a therapist to work though the trauma of the home invasion.

“It was a wake-up call,” she says.

Rodel adds: “My wife is an amazing person and we never in a million years thought that something like this would happen to her, would happen to us.”

Sgt. Garcia said that anyone with information should call Det. Daren Reinke in the SJPD Robbery Unit at 408.277.4166. As for those who wish to remain anonymous? They can reach out to Silicon Valley Crime Stoppers at 408.947.7867.

Erika and Rodel Cruzet say they're shaken by the break-in, and hope the public can track down whoever did this to them.

Jennifer Wadsworth is the news editor for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley. Email tips to [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at @jennwadsworth. Or, click here to sign up for text updates about what she’s working on.

17 Comments

  1. > “I see these guys on my right side, but my gun’s on my left,” he says, “so I rushed into the other room, grabbed my gun, put my magazine in, cocked it … and at the same time, they’re yelling, ‘I got your girl! I got your girl!’”

    So, is the DA going arrest the Cruzets for brandishing a weapon?

    Did the DA seize the gun?

    Was the gun an appropriately expensive middle class gun or was it a cheap “Saturday night special”?

    Was the gun properly stored?

    Was the paperwork in order?

    Was the gun’s magazine within legal capacity limits?

    Were the bullets for the gun microprinted with the required tracking information?

    Did the owners have proper gun safety training?

    Did Mr. Cruzet point the gone at any vital area of the perp, or did he aim only at a leg as Joe Biden recommends.

    This could have been a very dangerous situation for the perps. They very easily could have been injured.

  2. Defund the police doesn’t mean getting rid of the police. If you read the article, police didn’t prevent, or solve the crime. So, what even is your point?

  3. Um, why is it difficult to describe the intruders. They were literally in their living room. Feet away. Come on

  4. The victims labeling the suspects “Hispanic” is hateful. How do they know what race these gentlemen identify as? Should we really be encouraging our police to use these outmoded labels in their investigations?
    And why does Jennifer feel it’s necessary to label the victims as “French”?

  5. I was going to do a home invasion but I found out that as a convicted felon that I wasn’t allowed to possess firearms. I turned myself into the police.

  6. The homeowner doesn’t know how to handle firearms. Spend the time and effort to secure your property.

    If you are going to have firearms in your house then spend a LOT of time getting yourself trained. If you don’t have a plan for quick access to your primary and even secondary weapon then don’t plan on having one for home defense.

  7. Ummm John – I hope you are trying just be funny. “French” – French Bulldogs.

    When.you describe someone to help narrow down suspects Hispanic is perfectly acceptable. You are right we don’t know till they are caught of what they identify as. Maybe Ruritania.

  8. Still not really sure this is something SJI would normally cover?

    Is it because it’s Willow Glen and not some other, less desirable, zip code?

    Wasn’t the last sensational crime out of Willow Glen the Gackle stabbing?

    Is SJI even aware that the woman involved in stabbing the sports journalist was a walking crime spree who committed murder and then two separate robbery/attempted murder incidents within ten days of the Gackle incident?

    This was a rather sensational story that has received ZERO updates or follow up from this outfit.
    Why?

    Which brings me back to my original question and bee in my bonnet.
    The dead, mystery man, in the back of the Prius from the Redwood Estates murder of Robert Harden: who is the mystery man(is he a John Doe?), why hasn’t this been addressed, and how come this story has completely disappeared from the media?
    Is Andre Redmon still in jail, awaiting trial?

    Something really strange is going on with this and our crack reporters can’t be bothered to follow up.

    This seems to be a feature of SJI

  9. > Still not really sure this is something SJI would normally cover?

    It IS remarkable that San Jose Inside would choose to cover this story. Normally, stories like this are found only in the National Rifle Association newsletter.

    “Homeowner defends wife and pets from home invaders with Glock model 22, .40 cal. S&W, with 15 round extended magazine and red laser dot sight.”

    But beyond the astonishing details or the Cruzet incident, there is a larger issue of how LITTLE real information is available to the public relating to emergency services, first responders, and crime and punishment.

    Internet journalist Andy Ngo has done a heroic job of covering the AntiFa insurrection in Portland and the CHAZ/CHOP crime spree in Seattle. Ngo has published the mugshots of many of the arrested perps via his Twitter account.

    https://twitter.com/MrAndyNgo/status/1284162221015277568?s=20

    The level of detail provided by Ngo should be a standard that journalists and CITIZENS should set for public officials to properly inform the public on the level of public safety OR LACK OF PUBLIC SAFETY in their communities.

    We STILL don’t know the details of the deaths of Bambi Larson

    https://www.kron4.com/news/bay-area/bambi-larson-killed-nearly-one-year-ago-suspect-has-yet-to-enter-plea/

    or of Timothy Starkey, the unfortunate victim of Jenny Bradaninni’s errant SUV.

    https://www.sanjoseinside.com/news/autopsy-reveals-horrific-injuries-caused-by-san-jose-council-candidates-car-crash/

    Elected officials, local government officials, the DA’s office, the SJPD, the Sheriff’s Department, the SJFD must do a MUCH, MUCH, MUCH better job of informing the public about public safety issues and the accountability of those who threaten or violate public safety.

  10. If “de-fund” the police doesn’t mean “get rid of the police”, then what does it mean?
    If it means to “reduce” funding to the police, then why not say “reduce funding to the police” instead?

  11. > San Jose police are investigating the incident but have not put out a call for the public’s help identifying the suspects.

    > Victims of Home Invasion Ask for Help ID’ing Getaway Vehicle

    > Sgt. Garcia said that anyone with information should call Det. Daren Reinke in the SJPD Robbery Unit at 408.277.4166.

    So, WHO is asking for the public’s help?

    This is a significant question because the police could do a LOT more to enable the public to assist the police in locating perps.

    Just for example, the public has cheap and easy access to Google Photos which is capable of face recognition. It the SJPD or the Sheriff’s Office made available the mugshots of perps known or suspected of criminal involvement, people and business could upload the mugshots into there personal Google Photos accounts and help identify and locate criminal suspects. Many businesses routinely snap photos of customer transactions.

    The public would become a much more effective resource for tracking down bad guys.

    The Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office (Portland, OR) publishes mug shots. Why not Santa Clara County?

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