There’s perhaps no impulse stronger than a motherly instinct. And that’s just what a California woman felt when a man allegedly approached her family, flashed a gun and claimed to be a cop. She didn’t believe him – but the only tool that she had to protect her family was a taco.
The family’s afternoon had begun innocuously enough. On June 10, 2018, they went out for a day of splashing around in San Dimas, California, at a waterpark named Raging Waters. Afterwards, all six of them had worked up an appetite.
So, just after 6:30 p.m., the family stopped their minivan at a roadside food-truck and picked up sodas and tacos. The truck was parked on Valley Boulevard, Bassett, less than 20 minutes’ drive from Raging Waters.
Once their tacos were ready, the family began to eat them in their minivan. But while they ate, a man reportedly rode up to their impromptu dining spot on his bicycle. And he then sought to engage them in conversation.
In a statement from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s department quoted by the San Gabriel Valley Tribune, the man then “began to intimidate and terrorize both parents and their four children.” But there was apparently another unexpected twist in the tale – he also reportedly told them that he was a police officer.
In fact, a spokesperson for the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department, Joana Warren, stated that the man in question apparently had some of the accessories that a police officer would carry. “[He] showed them a badge,” she said.
However, the supposed undercover cop also “began flashing a gun that was concealed in his waistband,” Warren added. And at that point, the mother-of-four became suspicious. She felt as though the man on the bike was lying about his credentials.
With that, the mom’s protective instincts kicked in. “The mother instantly began to put together a plan,” Warren explained. After all, her husband and three daughters were there, and her toddler was “still buckled in his car seat inches away from the man with a gun,” according to Warren.
The mom was at a loss as to what she could use to defend herself, though, so she reached for her family’s dinner. The mother-of-four handed the supposed undercover cop one of their carne asada tacos. But her plan didn’t end there.
The woman then told the man that she needed to grab him a napkin before he started eating. He reportedly continued to show off the gun that he’d hidden in his waistband, but she didn’t falter.
The man allegedly rifled through her purse, too, when the mom-of-four took off for the taco truck. Instead of getting the man a napkin, though, she asked everyone queuing up for their meals to help her.
According to the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department’s Facebook page, “She quickly explained the man was flashing a gun and she feared for their lives. The customers in line at the taco truck called 911 without delay.”
The callers supplied police not only with the precise location of the taco truck, but also with a description of the suspect. L.A. County officers consequently showed up on the scene within minutes of fielding the customers’ calls.
When the police arrived, they had no trouble at all in finding the suspect. He was still lingering by the family’s minivan, in fact. And when he noticed the cops approaching, he allegedly made an interesting attempt at a getaway.
The L.A. County Sheriff’s Department reported that the man threw his concealed weapon into the family’s minivan. Then, he attempted to enter the vehicle, but the police officers intervened to prevent him from succeeding.
The officers subsequently detained the suspect, whom they later identified as 38-year-old Juan Rodriguez. “[He] was placed in handcuffs and taken to jail,” the Facebook post read. Deputies also took Rodriguez’s gun with them and confirmed that the family emerged unscathed from the ordeal.
Rodriguez was arrested on two counts – impersonating a police officer and child endangerment. The L.A. County Sheriff’s Department held him on a $201,000 bail and as of June 2018, he remained in jail.
The Facebook post also revealed that Rodriguez had outstanding warrants at the time of his arrest. In addition, the police were asking witnesses to step forward if any potentially related crimes had taken place in the area around the time of the taco truck incident.
The police also extended their gratitude to those who had already stepped up to help them in their arrest of Rodriguez. “We want to thank the community members who immediately called law enforcement to report the suspicious activity,” the Facebook post read.
But most of all, the police department lauded the mom who had acted smartly and swiftly. They wrote, “We want to give a shout out to the brave mother whose momma bear instincts kicked in. She was able to deescalate the situation, plan a distraction and found a way to get deputies to her location immediately.”