Police search canyon after chasing car stolen in home invasion

SAN DIEGO - Four masked men armed with a gun, a baseball bat and golf clubs burst into a Valencia Park home early Thursday and beat the stepfather of a man they were seeking, bludgeoning him and knocking him unconscious before stealing his wife's car, according to San Diego police.

The home-invasion assault in the 5200 block of Cervantes Avenue was reported shortly after 3:30 a.m.

The victim told officers he awoke to a commotion outside his house and went to the front door to investigate. The group of armed men then barged in and demanded to see the victim's 19-year-old stepson, who stays there off and on but was not home at the time, according to police.

The intruders proceeded to order the victim to tell them the whereabouts of a safe that his nephew brings with him when he comes and goes, Lt. Eric Hays said. When the resident could not do so, they pistol-whipped and beat him until he lost consciousness, then fled in his wife's black 2000 Lexus GS 300 sedan.

Medics took the victim to a hospital for treatment of injuries to his head and face.

About 12:30 Thursday afternoon, a patrol officer spotted the stolen Lexus in the City Heights area. The driver fled a short distance before crashing the car into a parked vehicle at Euclid Avenue and Isla Vista Drive, after which three occupants, two male and one female, jumped out and ran off into a nearby apartment complex, Officer Tony Martinez said.

Patrol personnel gave chase, catching up with one of the men a short distance away and taking him into custody. The suspect's name was not immediately available.

Officers were still searching the neighborhood for the outstanding suspects as of mid-afternoon.

A police cruiser driven by an officer responding to the initial sighting of the stolen luxury car veered out of control for unknown reasons and struck a fence, according to Martinez. The crash caused no injuries, he said.