VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. – A violent home invasion where a couple was handcuffed and threatened with a gun led to the arrest of a Kissimmee man, according to the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office.
Carmelo Cruz, 44, was arrested Monday.
Deputies said the attack occurred on Sept. 23 when Cruz went to a home in the 600 block of Eldron Avenue in the Deltona Lakes area.
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Investigators said Cruz — who was wearing a mask, a silver law enforcement-style badge and a bulletproof vest — confronted one of the victims outside the home, threatening him with an AR-15-style rifle and demanding money.
The charging affidavit shows Cruz forced the man inside his home. The victim’s wife was already inside the home and the couple was placed in handcuffs, investigators said.
Deputies said Cruz forced the couple from room to room of the house as he searched for guns and money.
The wife told investigators she eventually saw that Cruz’s gun did not appear loaded. After Cruz left the home with several hundred dollars, the couple followed him outside where the wife slipped out of her handcuffs, caught up with Cruz in the driveway and began screaming for help, the report reads.
Deputies said the woman attacked Cruz to prevent his escape, removing his badge, phone and mask in the process. Several neighbors told deputies they saw the fight. Cruz eventually drove off in a black SUV, records show.
Investigators said Cruz’s phone, a utility bill and Delta boarding passes with Cruz’s name on them were found outside of the victims’ home.
On Tuesday, Cruz faced a Volusia County judge at the jail where he’s being held without bond.
Although Cuz is in jail now, the victims he’s accused of imprisoning in their own home and their neighbors said they’re still shaken up and nervous.
“Nothing like that ever really happened before. The impersonation part is what caught us off guard,” said Jason Thornton.
Jason and his wife, Ashley, live across the street from the victims. They heard the wife screaming and called 911.
“She speaks Spanish. We’re trying to figure out if this is a cop, is it not a cop, what’s going on? You see a badge on so it was weird,” Jason said.
Cruz faces charges of home invasion robbery, two counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, two counts of false imprisonment and impersonating a law enforcement officer while committing a felony.
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