Suspects arrested in brutal beating

A small team of suspected criminals reportedly led by Jose Perez-Gonzalez, the wanted man who allegedly beat an elderly Daly City woman in a botched burglary, has been uncoveredby Daly City police.

Juan Carlos Cuellar, a 36-year-old illegal immigrant, was arrested Sunday and charged as an accessory to Perez-Gonzalez’s alleged attack.

Police said he was the getaway driver after Perez-Gonzalez, 28, attempted to burglarize the 78-year-old woman’s Serramonte neighborhood home about 3:15 p.m. on Jan. 12, but instead battered her with a pry bar and left her for dead. Cuellar is charged with attempted murder, aggravated assault and armed robbery.

Cuellar reportedly confessed to people that he was at the elderly woman’s home with Perez-Gonzalez.

“He was very frightened because he didn’t know anyone was going to be assaulted,” Daly City Lt. Jay Morena said. “This guy had a heavy heart and was telling some people about it.”

Though Cuellar did not enter the house or assault the Daly City woman, police said, he is culpable of all the crimes committed by Perez-Gonzalez, an illegal immigrant who is still at large.

Early last week, police also arrested Joann Ortiz, 43, the girlfriend of Perez-Gonzalez. She is suspected of calling the elderly woman before the attempted burglary to ask if she would be home to sign for a package.

Police said Ortiz helped set up another alleged burglary for Perez-Gonzalez in December that targeted the Pacifica residence of Ortiz’s employer.

The alleged heist occurred during a company Christmas party on Dec. 21 held by Ortiz’s boss, Jesse Henry, the owner of Superior Automotive, an auto body shop in San Francisco. Henry said Tuesday that $50,000 worth of property was stolen. Police said some of the stolen items were later recovered at Perez-Gonzalez’s apartment.

“I can’t believe she would rob us, but she set it up,” Henry said. “It just hurts.”

Henry also said Ortiz left work for an hour around 3 p.m. on the date of the assault.

The getaway car in the alleged assault, a white 2007 Chevrolet extended-cab pickup truck with license plate number 8K20092, has not been found. The police said the vehicle may contain blood or other biological evidence related to the attempted murder, Morena said.

Daly City is offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the suspect. Anyone with information is encouraged to contact the Daly City Police Department at (650) 991-8119.

svasilyuk@examiner.com 

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