Update: Robbed, kidnapped and forced off a bridge

Tamaya Duenas

The Gilroy Police Department has arrested three suspects they
say kidnapped, robbed and forced two victims off a bridge at Sprig
Lake.
Police have identified three suspects
– Catrina Cameron, Nathaniel Garcia and Tamaya Duenas – who
allegedly kidnapped two male victims who were lured to an apartment
on the 8800 block of Lilly Avenue.
The Gilroy Police Department has arrested three suspects they say kidnapped, robbed and forced two victims off a bridge at Sprig Lake.

Police have identified three suspects – Catrina Cameron, Nathaniel Garcia and Tamaya Duenas – who allegedly kidnapped two male victims who were lured to an apartment on the 8800 block of Lilly Avenue.

According to police, Cameron, 21, befriended the victims Saturday and Sunday in Gilroy and then took them Monday into Duenas’ apartment where Garcia, 22, and Duenas, 23, were waiting with a gun and knives.

Cameron, Garcia and Duenas – all Gilroy residents – took the victims to ATM machines and forced them to make cash withdrawals, police said. The amount of money stolen could not be released due to ongoing investigations.

Police say the victims were taken to Sprig Lake off Hecker Pass Road in unincorporated Gilroy and were then bound, blindfolded and pushed off the 15-foot bridge. The victims’ nonfatal injuries included a broken nose, lacerations and significant bleeding and bruising, according to Sgt. Chad Gallacinao.

Gallacinao said the victims called the GPD at 5:32 a.m.

“I have knowledge of a lot of violent incidents in Gilroy but I don’t recall anything where the victims were blindfolded, bound and pushed off a bridge,” said Gallacinao, a 13-year GPD veteran.

Cameron and Duenas were expressionless as they were brought in for their arraignment at 1:30 p.m. Thursday at the South County Courthouse in Morgan Hill, wearing red robes with the words “Elmwood Department of Correction” printed on them.

Cameron’s case was the first reviewed by Gregory Saldivar, Santa Clara County Superior Court commissioner, followed by Duenas. Cameron’s face was pale and her hair was tied back when she stood at the podium.

Representation for Cameron and Duenas asked for their case to be heard at a later date and for an attorney to represent them in court. Saldivar denied bail for both women and rescheduled their hearing for Nov. 2.

Nathaniel Garcia, who was arraigned Thursday morning, also asked for a lawyer. His case was continued for Nov. 9.

Five relatives and friends of the suspects, who said they were from out of town, attended the arraignment. As they exited the courthouse, one of them said with a sigh, “These girls.”

“All we know is that they’re going to be in there for a long time,” said a woman who gave her name as Christina. She declined to give her full name.

Garcia was arrested at 3:30 p.m. Monday and booked into the Santa Clara County Main Jail. Cameron and Duenas were arrested at 5:40 p.m. Tuesday on the 2100 block Monterey Road.

Police said they searched the apartments of Duenas and Cameron with the department’s regional SWAT team and found evidence linked to the crimes.

Police arrested the suspects on charges of kidnapping, robbery, attempted murder, carjacking and assault with a deadly weapon.

Julia Loera-Gaeta, community manager of the Lilly Gardens Apartments where Duenas lives, said she knew Duenas and Garcia. She had only seen Cameron once about two weeks ago at Duenas’ apartment.

“I would never have imagined this would happen,” she said. “When I found out there was an arrest, I thought it had been a guest of hers (Duenas).”

As a single mother, Duenas moved into the apartment complex in February of 2007, and was a full-time student at Gavilan College, according to Loera-Gaeta.

“She was very quiet. She spoke very lightly. She always preferred to speak to me on the telephone than in person,” Loera-Gaeta said. “She was never violent. Her goals were her school and her boy.”

Loera-Gaeta frequently had to ask Duenas to quiet down when she had guests home late at night, but she said they were always family members.

Loera-Gaeta worried about Duenas’ toddler who, she estimated, is 3 or 4 years old.

“He would sometimes go down the stairs with a skateboard and I would tell her he was too small to be doing that,” she said. “But she would just smile and say, ‘He likes it a lot.’ “

Loera-Gaeta did not have the same impression of Garcia, who lived on the 100 block of Lilly Avenue, behind a fence that separates the apartments from a row of houses.

She said he would always jump the fence and get into the apartment complex, but she never saw him visit Duenas. She said he would carry a pocket knife and screwdrivers in his pocket. Garcia’s actions worried her to the point of Loera-Gaeta attempting to get a restraining order against him. She said the court clerks told her it would be difficult to do if Garcia had acquaintances in the apartment complex. Garcia never threatened her, she said.

According to court records, Garcia has had two prior cases at Santa Clara County Superior Court since 2009.

Anyone with information about this incident may call police at 846-0350 or leave an anonymous tip at 1-800-782-7463.

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