Police: Street vendor run over in apparent intentional act

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A mother of four working as a street vendor was seriously injured after being struck — apparently intentionally — by a vehicle in San Bernardino, police said Friday.

Marlen Benitez Munoz, far left, is seen in a photo provided by her family.
Marlen Benitez Munoz, far left, is seen in a photo provided by her family.

The collision, which is being investigated as an assault, took place in the area of Frontage Road near Highland Avenue around 3:20 p.m. Tuesday, according to a San Bernardino Police Department news release.

Officers responded to reports of a food vendor being struck by a vehicle and found the victim with “significant trauma,” the release stated.

She was taken to a hospital where she remains in critical condition. Officials identified her as Marlen Munoz, 28, of San Bernardino.

Family gave the woman’s name as Marlen Benitez Munoz, and said she was fighting for her life in intensive care at the Loma Linda University Medical Center Friday night.

Alejandro Isable, the victim’s brother-in-law, said Munoz was selling fruit at the corner when a black SUV plowed through her food stand, striking her.

Investigators believe the driver intentionally ran over the victim, based on witness statements and evidence recovered at the scene, according to police.

San Bernardino police released this undated photo of Robert Spargo.
San Bernardino police released this undated photo of Robert Spargo.

A motive is not yet known. Family members believe the assault could have been racially motivated.

Authorities arrested the suspect, 42-year-old Robert Spargo, and booked him on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon.

Detectives say they found several empty aerosol spray cans in the SUV, leading them to suspect he was under the influence.

Munoz has four daughters, according to Isable, who’s now caring for her children. She recently began commuting daily from their home in Vernon to work as a vendor, he told KTLA. 

Isable says Munoz has been unresponsive in the hospital, but doctors are hopeful.

A GoFundMe campaign set up to raise funds for Munoz’s recovery described her as being in a coma. More than $24,000 had been raised by Friday night.

Jail records indicate Spargo is being held on $500,000 bail.

No further details have been released amid the ongoing investigation.

Anyone with information is urged to contact Detective Flesher by calling 909- 384-5655 or emailing flesher_wi@sbcity.org, or Sgt. Tello by calling 909-384-5613 or emailing tello_al@sbcity.org.

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