Three men, running in a single file suddenly darted from the darkness of an empty parking lot on Pacific Coast Highway right in front of our news van.
As we screeched to a halt, we found ourselves next to a white Mercedes Benz SUV stopped in the middle of the right traffic lane and watched incredulously - and a bit angry because we had almost killed these guys - as they piled into the back seat.
Immediately Tony said "Something's wrong. Those guys just ran out of Duke's".
Duke's is a popular restaurant and bar on PCH and at four o'clock in the morning, we knew they were closed.
"Get their license plate number", Tony said as they sped off in front of us.
Why were these guys running in the middle of Pacific Coast Highway at 4 o'clock in the morning? Why did they all pile into the backseat together? And why are they speeding away like that?
We knew something was definitely wrong.
The SUV had paper plates so I grabbed my phone and began recording although all we could see of the SUV in front of us were its red taillights as it sped down PCH at what we estimated was 100 miles an hour.
As I shot the video, Tony called the LA County Sheriff's Department and reported what we had seen, giving them a description of the men, right down to the pajama pants and hoodies they were wearing, as well as the information on the SUV and in which direction it was heading.
Meanwhile, police also received a 9-1-1 call from Duke's. Three men had just broken in, someone reported, and had assaulted the janitor; he was bleeding and it was bad.
As deputies and paramedics rushed to Duke's, another patrol car spotted the white SUV we reported and pulled it over.
By then, police had the full story from Duke's where the cleaning crew - a brother and sister team - confirmed that three men had forced their way in thru the kitchen, smashed Jesus the janitor's head in with a crowbar, hitting him in the hand too, in what police think was a burglary gone bad.
"Yo me asusté mucho cuando lo escuché gritando", his sister said to me in Spanish, describing how scared she was when she heard her brother screaming.
"When I got to him his face was covered in blood", she said. "He was shouting 'They're inside! They're inside! Run! Run!'"
But then she says, they saw her and ran...ran right outside into traffic and right in front of our news van.
Eighteen stitches later, Jesus is shaken up but says he'll be ok.
Thanks to the quick work of deputies from the Sheriff's Lost Hills - Malibu station, the cleaning crew was able to identify the suspects as the same people police had pulled over in the SUV and four people were arrested. Three men, two of them 21-years-old and an 18-year-old were taken into custody, along with the driver of the Mercedes Benz, a 19-year-old girl.
"Muchas gracias", said Jesus to us in Spanish. "Que Dios los bendiga." Thank you and may God bless you.
No thanks were necessary but it certainly was appreciated and both Tony and I were happy to meet Jesus.
Tony's gut instinct told him something wasn't right this morning and that whatever it was, it needed to be reported.
And later we were both reminded of the slogan law-enforcement uses all the time, the "See something? Say something!" one to encourage people to say something when they see something suspicious.
Today, it happened to us.
Tomorrow, it could happen to you.
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