Arrest made in violent holdup of California Lyft driver
SOUTH EL MONTE, Calif. (AP) — A man arrested on suspicion of robbing and pistol-whipping a Lyft driver in a Los Angeles suburb was a convicted felon on probation, authorities said Thursday.
Dandre Lorenz Powell, 26, of Downey was arrested Tuesday in Paramount, where he was staying at a motel. He was taken into custody in a car and had a gun, sheriff’s officials said.
Powell is suspected in the May 10 attack on 67-year-old Lyft driver Paul Liao in South El Monte.
Sheriff’s officials say they have been told by prosecutors that Powell will face charges of first-degree robbery, victimizing someone over the age of 65 in a violent crime, and being a felon possessing a gun and ammunition.
Prosecutors didn’t immediately comment.
Powell remained jailed Thursday on $2 million bail, and it wasn’t immediately clear whether he had an attorney who could speak on his behalf.
“To the victim and his family, I send my dearest sympathy for all of the trauma this has caused,” county Sheriff Alex Villanueva said at a news conference. “I know that you’re extremely frightened and you took the job as a rideshare driver to provide for your family during these difficult times with a pandemic.”
Liao was robbed of more than $1,500 in cash and struck twice in the face with a gun during the attack, which was captured by the car’s camera.
Liao has said the gunman slid into the back seat at a gas station where Liao had washed his car and was awaiting his next customer. He managed to dissuade the man from stealing the car by saying it had a keyless starting system that could not be operated by the attacker.
Liao suffered a bloody nose. A GoFundMe campaign by his family had raised more than $32,000 for Liao before the family stopped accepting donations.
“Paul wants to let everyone know that he is making good progress at recovering both emotionally and physically. He is not in as much pain anymore,” Christine Ting, Liao’s daughter-in-law, wrote on the GoFundMe page. “He is very touched by everyone’s generosity.”
Powell has a criminal history of violence, including two felony convictions, and was on probation at the time of the attack, sheriff’s officials said. Further details were not immediately available.