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Bystanders Catch Man Who Tried to Set Fire to Vehicles After Crash

June 22, 1986|JEFFREY A. PERLMAN | Times Staff Writer

Authorities credited two bystanders with apprehending a Stanton man late Friday night after a traffic collision in which the man allegedly attempted to burn the vehicles--and their occupants--while claiming that this was common practice in El Salvador, where he said he had been a "revolutionary war fighter."

Kevin Dougherty, California Highway Patrol public information officer, said William Brooks, 19, a U.S. Marine based in Tustin, and Thomas Mraz, 33, of Anaheim, chased suspect Cruz Eduardo Perez, 26, on foot and brought him back to the scene of the collision and held him until authorities arrived.

Perez was being held Saturday in Orange County Jail in lieu of $250,000 bail on suspicion of attempted murder, attempted arson, felony drunk driving and felony hit-and-run driving, according to authorities.

Dougherty said the incident began at about 11:15 p.m. Friday when Perez's pickup truck slammed into the rear of a car driven by George Hallak, 55, of Cypress, near the intersection of Katella Avenue and Magnolia Street in a strip of county territory near Anaheim.

Dougherty said Perez jumped out of his pickup truck, got a one-gallon container of gasoline from the truck, poured the gasoline over his pickup and the Hallak car, and yelled, in Spanish, "match, match, I need a match" while pushing George Hallak back inside his car and slamming the door on him.

Dougherty said that cabdriver Frank Cole of Orange pushed Perez aside and that Perez then grabbed some papers out of his truck and fled on foot, shouting obscenities about America. That's when two men who witnessed the accident--Brooks and Mraz--ran after Perez and apprehended him about a block away.

Hallak and his wife, Vinita, 50, a passenger in the car, were treated for minor injuries at Humana Hospital in Anaheim, Dougherty said.

A third vehicle damaged in the collision was driven by a 67-year-old Seal Beach man, but he was not injured, Dougherty said.

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