San Jose police have arrested two brothers accused of terrorizing street vendors at gunpoint.
The suspects, 24-year-old Michaelangelo Cortez Lopez and 19-year-old Richard Cortez Lopez, both of San Jose, are accused of robbing at least 13 East San Jose vendors between July 30 and Sept. 16. Money, phones and food items were stolen from victims — mainly ice cream and food vendors — who also reported being beaten and pistol whipped, police said.
"You never know what's going to happen and why, and when you come over there and that happens, then I'm actually involved in whatever is going on, so of course it makes you afraid," said Sanjuana Martinez, a street vendor's customer.
The men were arrested at their East San Jose home on Wednesday, police said. It remains unclear what charges they will face on the heels of the alleged crime spree.
Investigators canvassed neighborhoods, interviewed witnesses and collected physical evidence and surveillance footage for two months, police said, and also educated street vendors about safety.
The pair “viciously targeted a segment of our society that needed our help the most,” San Jose police Sgt. Jaime Jiménez said. “Immigrant groups already face numerous challenges and this criminal victimization does nothing to help their integration into the social embroidery of our city.”
Martinez agreed, saying, "I'm glad they're arrested because [the vendors] really work hard to make a living."
An investigation is ongoing, said police, who believe more crimes may have gone unreported.
People with information about the crimes are asked to contact the San Jose Police Department’s Robbery Unit at (408)277-4166.