News reports led to the arrest this morning of a 20-year-old man suspected of assaulting a woman during an armed robbery at a SantaAna massage parlor.
The employee suffered substantial facial and head injuries in the attack, which occurred just before 11 p.m. on Feb. 12 at the So Relax Day Spa in the 3700 block of West McFadden Avenue, and was caught on surveillance video, according to Santa Ana police.
Numerous tips led investigators to Rafael Rodriguez Jr. of Bellflower, who was arrested at his home with the assistance of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, police said.
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After demanding money at gunpoint, the robber struck the woman several times in the head with the weapon while tugging her hair, police said, and also choked her as she tried to get away.
"He wanted to kill me," Ling Wong told NBC4. "I couldn't breathe, I couldn't breathe."
She said the assailant had been in the business twice on the day of the robbery, both times paying for massages. But he later entered through a back door and confronted the woman, initially telling her he lost his phone. He then pulled out the gun and attacked her, demanding money.
The surveillance footage, shown on NBC4, showed the pair wrestling in a hallway, with the victim screaming. She said she remembers thinking "I don't want to die in here,'' and saying to herself, "I have to survive, I have to survive.''
The beating lasted less than two minutes, but it was violent. The bruises cover her face, her hands and her arms.
The suspect eventually made off with cash from the business, making his getaway in a newer-model red sedan, police said.
Rodriguez was booked on suspicion of robbery, kidnapping for robbery, false imprisonment and assault with a deadly weapon.
"Without the assistance of media and community members, detectives may have never identified this suspect, and this case may have gone unresolved.'' according to a police statement.