Taco-bout quick thinking.
A California mom used what police called "taco tactics" to distract and help arrest an armed man impersonating an undercover officer near a taco truck, police said.
The family was enjoying the refreshments outside their parked minivan in City of Industry, a Los Angeles suburb, when a stranger on a bike approached them, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
Police said the man, identified as Juan Rodriguez, starting terrorizing the mother, as well as her husband and their four young children. He told the family of six that he was an undercover cop and he flashed a gun that was in his waistband. He also waved a badge around.
The badge and the gun didn’t impress the mother, who has not been identified. Her instincts told her he wasn’t a police officer, cops said. A nearby taco truck gave her an idea.
"The mother instantly began to put together a plan in place to distance her husband, three daughters and toddler who was still buckled in his car seat inches away from the man with a gun," the sheriff's office said in a statement. "She offered the man a street taco and told him she needed to grab napkins for him from the taco truck."
As she walked to the taco truck, Rodriguez continued to flash his gun as he went through her purse. The mom asked customers and taco truck workers for help, urging them not to look back towards her family’s van so that Rodriguez didn’t know she was onto him. The mom asked for someone to call 911. Police arrived within minutes.
“When the suspect saw the patrol cars getting closer, he tossed the handgun into the family’s van and tried to get in,” the office said. The attempt failed and he was immediately arrested.
The sheriff’s office celebrated the mother’s “momma bear instincts.”
Rodriguez, 38, was arrested on felony charges including child endangerment, impersonating a peace officer and outstanding warrants. He’s being held on $201,000 bail, according to the Sun Gabriel Valley Tribune.
It’s possible Rodriguez was posing as an officer around the area earlier in the day. Police are asking anyone with information to contact the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Industry Sheriff's Station at (626)330-3322. If you prefer to provide information anonymously, you may call "Crime Stoppers" by dialing (800) 222-TIPS (8477), use your smartphone by downloading the “P3 Tips” Mobile APP, or “P3 Mobile” for the hearing impaired, on Google Play or the App Store, or by using the website http://lacrimestoppers.org.
[Photos: Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department]