Phoenix homeowner pepper sprayed by suspected ‘porch pirate’

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Police say a homeowner helped solve at least two crimes when he confronted and chased a pepper spray-wielding suspect. Police identified the man as 30-year-old Gabriel Poventud.

PHOENIX – Police say a Phoenix homeowner helped solve at least two crimes when he confronted and chased a pepper spray-wielding suspect.

Jeremiah Lopez says he spotted a suspicious man peering over his backyard fence Dec. 12 near 7th and Glendale avenues.

Lopez approached the man and shouted at him to leave. Lopez snapped pictures of the man as he initially pedaled away on a bicycle.

“I stayed here watching to make sure he leaves the neighborhood and he came back again,” Lopez said. “And this time, he’s riding a little faster. [He] rides right up to me in my yard and sprays me right in the face” with pepper spray.

The pepper spray hit Lopez in the left eye, but it didn’t deter him. He says he jumped in his SUV and chased the suspect, all while calling 911.

Lopez said as he pursued the pedaling suspect, the man made an abrupt turn on his bicycle and the two collided.

“Bike goes off the car. He flies off the hood and he gets up and starts swinging a bag at the car down the side and yelling,” Lopez said, adding that the man appeared to dump several items into a nearby yard.

The impact left the bicycle mangled and caused some damage to Lopez’ vehicle.

Phoenix police arrived and arrested the man, identified as 30-year-old Gabriel Poventud.

Lopez posted about his experience on the social media app, Nextdoor, and neighbors started putting new pieces together.

Users compared Poventud’s booking photo to video posted by a neighbor of a package theft the day before, near Maryland and 7th avenues. They presented the information to Phoenix police, who booked Poventud on suspicion of both crimes.

“That was the leg up on the case,” said Sgt. Vince Lewis with Phoenix police.

“This is one of those unique situations where the community came together with law enforcement to solve a crime in their own neighborhood,” he said.