2 cousins arrested for series of street muggings

CHULA VISTA, Calif. — Two cousins were behind bars Thursday for allegedly robbing four pedestrians, most of them teenagers, and attempting to rob a fifth in western Chula Vista over the past month.

Nicholas Solario, 23, and Malaefono Sula, 31, were arrested Wednesday — one day after the latest incident, according to Chula Vista police Capt. Vern Sallee. During questioning, both allegedly admitted to their involvement in the string of robberies dating back to Nov. 28.

Sallee said the suspects targeted young people walking alone in western Chula Vista.

Early Tuesday afternoon, one of the suspects hopped out of a red SUV in the vicinity of Twin Oaks Avenue and I Street, grabbed a 16-year-old boy by the hand and demanded he turn over his phone, Sallee said.

The teen punched the suspect in the face and ran off. He reported the crime and was able to provide police with a description of the suspects and their vehicle, along with its Nevada license plate number, according to the captain.

In each of the previous robberies, the victims described two heavyset men in a red SUV, one of whom approached them and demanded their property. They allegedly took cell phones, a wallet, cash and other items.

On Dec. 2, one suspect allegedly pulled a knife on a 16-year-old boy during a robbery in the 700 block of Fifth Avenue. The suspect claimed to be armed with a gun while robbing a 16-year-old boy in the 100 block of Telegraph Road that same day, and in a similar holdup targeting a 17-year-old girl in the 1400 block of Tobias Drive on Dec. 1, according to Sallee.

No weapon was seen in the first robbery and that victim was 21 years old.

Sallee said the investigation was ongoing. Victims who have yet to come forward or anyone with additional information on the case were asked to call Detective James Petray at 619-585-5664.