Houston, Texas (KTRK) – A 19-year-old man is in prison for stealing a car at gunpoint during what was supposed to be a test drive for a private sale. Investigators said he was a repeat offender and was charged with two similar offences.
The victim, who asked ABC13 not to be identified, said he put the car up for sale on Facebook. It was then, he said, that the suspect, Jessel Luis Rivera Lanza, reached out and asked him to take her for a test drive.
He recalls meeting Lanza and two others on April 10 in a Town and Country Village parking lot.
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The man told ABC13 they drove about a mile to the Bed Bath and Beyond parking lot before the three guns were pulled out and pointed at him.
The victim said: “Someone put a gun to my forehead. Someone put a gun to my chest. Someone put a gun to my gut.”
The suspects allegedly ordered him to get out of the car and then drove off. The victim expressed how grateful he was to be made alive.
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“If they pull the trigger and maybe I hit one part of my body that makes me disabled, I thought, ‘How am I going to feed my family?’” How will I go on with my life? But God still wants me to live and do better things.
The victim shared that he had come to the United States from Nigeria about six to seven years ago and had turned cars on the side to help support his family.
He never suspected something like this would happen to him and says it made him more cautious about making private sales.
“Whoever comes to me now,” he said, “I have to get their ID before I let them into my car. I also will only allow one person to test drive at a time if they show up with more people.” .
Houston police arrested Lanza on Wednesday and the victim said his car was returned to him. The suspect is facing charges of aggravated robbery with a deadly weapon.
Lanza’s bond documents said he faced two other counts of similar offences. As a result, the investigators are asking for a high bond amount because they believe he is likely to re-offend.
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