Los Angeles police announced the arrest of a man suspected of holding a pregnant woman at gunpoint and stealing her French bulldogs in an attempt to later extort her for money.
Sammeiso Lewis, of Las Vegas, is charged with robbery in connection to the incident, which happened Dec. 9 of last year in Studio City, police said Monday. After taking the dogs, Lewis allegedly called the victim and her husband from a blocked number and demanded $1,000 to get them back.
“This was a nine-month pregnant woman walking her dog in her neighborhood that was randomly targeted and went through a pretty traumatic experience,” Los Angeles Police Department detective Noah Stone said.
The events unfolded around 10 a.m. on the 4100 block of Kraft Avenue. Lewis approached the victim and aimed the gun at her head as he demanded the dogs, police said. Witnesses captured the robbery on cellphone video and were able to provide investigators with a description of the suspect vehicle.
About 10 hours later, Lewis called the victim and her husband, demanding money in exchange for the animals, LAPD Capt. Hamed Mohammadi said.
Lewis later passed the dogs off to woman whom he didn’t know and was not involved in the crime, according to Stone. That woman called the victim and not only returned the dogs but was “instrumental” in solving the case, the detective said.
Police were able to track the suspect down thanks to tips from the public, as well as a man who met Lewis on a dating website and overheard him calling the victim, detective Ryan Lee said, noting that Lewis allegedly used the man’s phone to place the ransom call. The man described Lewis and told police the website where they met.
Police found Lewis in Glendale in a stolen vehicle on Jan. 26, police said, adding that he had three other outstanding felony warrants. The victim as well as witnesses positively identified him the next day. Lewis has a criminal history in multiple states, mostly related to identity theft, Stone said.
The woman, who was since given birth, was happy to learn of the arrest, police said.