Rock-throwing reign of terror ends in couple's arrest

By Kristina Davis
UNION-TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER
10:50 a.m. September 19, 2006

SAN MARCOS – Nearly every night for a month, fist-sized rocks and pieces of brick rained down on three homes along Via Camellia.
The barrage shattered windows, dented family cars and chipped stucco, not to mention scaring residents who were afraid of getting pelted by just stepping outside.

Sheriff's deputies staked out the area near Woodland Parkway and Mission Road, wearing night-vision goggles and hiding out in bushes while a helicopter searched overhead. The barrages continued.

Finally on Sunday night, authorities acted on the hunch of a rookie deputy and made an arrest.

A married couple who had repeatedly complained to deputies about damage to their home – even claiming to have been hit by a rock – were not victims after all.

Detective Sgt. Tom Bulow said Jesus Maldonado, 25, and his wife, Krystal Maldonado, 23, were taken into custody Sunday night after deputies caught them launching rocks at their neighbors' homes from their backyard.

The couple was booked into Vista jail on suspicion of stalking, conspiracy to commit a crime and filing a false police report. Bulow said more charges are expected. Both were booked on about $200,000 bail each.

The first rock attacks were reported Aug. 26, officials said. Bulow said they began after one of the neighbors made an inappropriate comment about Krystal Maldonado.

Eggs and paintballs were among the objects thrown at the homes. Most of the attacks took place between 11 p.m. and 1 a.m., authorities said.

“It's certainly hazardous if you can't walk outside your house after 11 because you might get hit in the head with a rock,” Bulow said. “One person was trying to sell his house, and he had 4-by-8 pieces of plywood leaning on his roof and against his house to protect his property from the rocks.”

Deputies tried everything to catch the vandals.

They were staked out in the park behind the houses. They surveyed aerial maps of the neighborhood and identified every person living on the block.

They used gang and narcotics detectives, the special enforcement unit and helicopters.

Still, rocks would seem to drop from the sky out of nowhere, even as a patrol car drove down the block.

“We'd have black-and-whites drive down the street. . . and rocks would launch at houses,” Bulow said. “We were running out of resources.”

The only people who knew about the surveillance were the victims.

Then, Deputy Victor David began to notice that the Maldonados didn't seem as concerned as their neighbors about their vehicles being struck, even though they frequently called 911 to report rock attacks.

On Sunday, during a secret surveillance of the home, the deputy's hunch was validated, Bulow said.

“That was very good work,” Bulow said. “It was frustrating, but it's solved.”
A little birdy told me the department will be seeking reimbursement for certain expenses related to this incident.