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Witness to a death 

The first-hand story of a botched marijuana holdup in Los Osos

click to enlarge THE SCENE :  The house, left, is where the  shooting happened. The victim ran to the middle of the street, right, before he fell and died. - PHOTOS BY STEVE E. MILLER
  • PHOTOS BY STEVE E. MILLER
  • THE SCENE : The house, left, is where the shooting happened. The victim ran to the middle of the street, right, before he fell and died.

I hear gunshots piercing the air and begin to run for the door in my flip-flops. Was I going to die? That’s all I could think of.

I run from the dining room, Thai food flies out of the container in my hand and I open the front door, which I usually need help opening because it jams. I hear someone running behind me and think they might have a gun. My adrenalin is pumping and I feel like I’ve overdosed on caffeine.

I run out of the driveway, turn left on the street, and look back. All I see is the young robber with the marijuana T-shirt standing in the middle of the street at the end of the driveway.

“I’m gonna die!”

That is all he says in the most dramatic tone I’ve ever heard anyone use. As I stare at him, he looks at first like a normal-functioning person. The next thing I know what looks like his internal organs and blood are streaming out of his mouth. He slowly collapses to the middle of the street as I continue to run in panic.

I knew I had witnessed his last words: It was hard to think about. My nature is to help but I knew there was nothing I could do. I kept running because I didn’t know whether I was going to get shot.

I still don’t understand why I’m still alive and how things ended up as they did. I feel blessed to be able to experience life and write this story.

I had taken a walk with my mom earlier that morning and we were discussing life. My mom actually told me that morning that when it’s not our time to go, we don’t go.

The young guy who died in the street was trying to steal marijuana and cash. His sordid death underscores why so many people are fighting for marijuana to be legalized. A plant that is supposed to be used for healing—but has a high street value—is what drew the guys to the house.

‘If an opportunity comes, take it’

This is how this tragic story began: I was just beginning to eat the first couple of bites of pineapple curry with chicken and shrimp and had just taken my first sip of my Thai iced tea. Knock, knock, knock. Someone was at the door unannounced. I asked myself, who could it be?

The tenant of the house, with whom I was watching a movie, answered the door. “Who is it?” he asked.

A Hispanic man and a young white man barged into the house. The Hispanic guy waved around a silver gun with a large barrel and kept asking for someone named Scooter. I’d never even heard of anyone with that name before and I didn’t understand what was going on.

He asked the tenant of the house where all the weed and money was, who pointed to a jar on the table and told him that was all the weed he had and he didn’t know a Scooter.

I told the gunman I didn’t live there. I didn’t know what was going on and didn’t want to be part of it. I told him I was just trying to eat my Thai food and watch the movie.

I inched out of my chair like I was going to leave and he told me to fucking sit down and he wasn’t fucking around because he’s a thug and he’ll shoot out my fucking knee caps.

He asked if we’d ever seen the movie Pulp Fiction. I said no, I hadn’t. Then he pointed his gun at my face and told me to give him my food.

He began to scarf down my curry. My mind was racing like a turbo engine. Was I really going to die?

While we were being tormented the two robbers were laughing and having a good time. The younger robber was smiling and asking where was the money. I was in such shock that when the Hispanic man handed me my food back I continued to eat it. I would never have eaten it after that, but I didn’t know what else to do. I tried not to look at either robber and just focus on the movie.

The Hispanic man became very angry when he saw I was watching the movie and not looking at him. He told me to look at him because he’s a fucking thug and he’s not fucking around. He told us he would shoot us and thugs don’t mess around.

As I listened to him and looked up at his face, he looked like a very scary junkie. He looked spun out of his mind on hard drugs and was shaking the entire time. We were the ones who were threatened with death and he was the one with the gun but he was shaking more than we were. He then told me to stand up, empty my pockets, and give him everything I had. I did exactly what he asked and didn’t argue. He then pointed at some ground-up marijuana on the table that was yellow and had already been vaporized out of a vaporizing machine. It was trash and had no use. The tenant of the house scooped up the pile of vaporized herb and put it in a napkin for him.

Then the Hispanic guy ate some of the tenant’s food and pointed the gun at him. In an extremely hostile manner he repeated over and over he wasn’t messing around, that he was a fucking thug, and he would fucking shoot.

He then opened the fridge, pointed at some glass bottles in the back corner of it with his gun, and said he was going to take all the beers. He chugged root beer in a glass bottle very fast while pointing the gun at us and eventually realized there was no beer in the fridge: It was all root beer! He asked why the fuck there was a bunch of root beer in the fridge and was very angry it wasn’t real beer.

He pointed his gun at the tenant’s head and told him to open his fortune cookie and read it aloud. The tenant did exactly what the robber said. He opened the cookie and read aloud, “If an opportunity comes, take it.” The Hispanic man repeated what the fortune said after the tenant read it and he laughed. At that point I was very confused about what was going to happen.

Then he proceeded to walk past where the tenant was sitting. He was wondering where to find money or weed. Neither of the robbers noticed the almost Christmas tree-sized medical marijuana plants in the back yard with a medical prescription sign posted. It was very odd because the Hispanic man had spent a long time standing in view of the sliding glass door with the plants right behind it.

The Hispanic man was very angry and began opening drawers and trying to find anything he could steal. Then he finally noticed some herb drying on a string in a bedroom. He became very excited and said, “See, I knew there was more.”

He told the tenant to go into the room where the herb was hanging and face the back wall. The next thing I know gunshots are fired and I’m running to the door in the deepest fear I’ve ever had. I sprint out of the driveway, and there I am at the scene where I started my story.

I sprint all the way home.

I sit by myself for hours in severe anxiety with no one to talk to. I had no cell phone to call anyone because the Hispanic guy had stolen everything from my pockets. Fear, depression, sadness, confusion, chaos, and loneliness were a few of the emotions I was experiencing.

I had no idea what had happened on the other side of the wall but I expected the worst.

I heard the shots and saw the man dying in the street but I still had and have many unanswered questions.

Why did the robbers enter without hiding their faces? Didn’t they think we would see their faces and report what happened? How did they get there? How were they going to take all the stuff they were going to steal? Was there a getaway driver waiting for them? What were they going to do with us before they left with all the stolen stuff? Would they have tied us up, or what? How would things have turned out if both robbers had guns?

The robbery clearly wasn’t well planned. The Hispanic guy was more into talking himself up and taking his time to torment us than hurrying to steal stuff and bail out. The white robber spent most of the time laughing and listening to what the Hispanic robber was saying. They were in no hurry at all; they were taking their time.

My family finally arrived home and my relative who was visiting from out of town for the weekend said I should go to the police substation and report what happened.

As we were just getting ready to leave our driveway, deputy sheriffs surrounded us with rifles and pointed them at us.

I was lying on the ground with a gun pointed at my head yet again. I couldn’t believe my family was forced to deal with all the anxiety of the whole situation and having guns pointed at them as well. As the deputies put me in handcuffs while my face was in the dirt and the gun was being pointed at me, I felt a deep, indescribable sadness.

I had just seen someone die and I thought the tenant of the house, with whom I watched the movie, was dead as well. I just wanted answers, but that’s not what I got.

After cuffing me they put me in the back of their squad car. I asked them to put my seatbelt on when they began to drive off. They stopped and apologized. They were from a different part of the county so I directed them how to get back to the scene of the crime. I sat in a depressed state of mind. I was squished in the back seat with my hands cuffed in a very uncomfortable position.

The detective working the case was finally able to confirm the tenant of the house was alive and OK. I was so surprised and relieved to know that he was all right. I didn’t understand how he survived or why the white robber was dead, when the Hispanic guy was the one with the gun.

The detective talked to me through the back window of the car and told me that he would meet me at the substation for an investigation. I waited at the station in the back of the car and saw the tenant of the house in a blue one-piece outfit in the back of another car. I was so happy to see that he was alive.

I went into an empty room with the detective and he interviewed me and I told him every detail I could remember.

I waited at the station and signed some mandatory paperwork. The deputy sheriffs told the tenant’s father to give me a ride back to the crime scene, where detectives were still investigating.

They told me to strip down and they gave me one of the blue outfits like the tenant had been wearing. I took off all my clothes in the middle of the street and the detectives took them for investigation purposes. They also took some stuff out of my vehicle, which was still parked in front of the crime scene. One of the items taken included my digital SLR camera, which I would have used to take pictures to go with this story.

The Hispanic guy with the gun told the tenant to face the back wall right after the fortune cookie was read. The tenant later told me he picked up a loaded gun that was on the floor right in front of him. The only loaded gun that was in the house was in the spot right where the robber told the tenant to be. The tenant did just as the fortune cookie said and began shooting at the Hispanic guy. The tenant said the Hispanic man’s gun locked up when he tried to shoot.

When I went back to the house to get a better understanding of exactly what happened, I noticed a red stain from a puddle of blood and brain gel very close to where I had been sitting. I could have easily been hit by a bullet. I still don’t know how the kid who died got shot. The tenant said he was only shooting at the Hispanic guy.

Was it a ricocheted bullet?

I was told that the bullet hit him in the back of the head. That explains why he looked normal and didn’t look like he got shot at first. I only saw the front of him when he was in the middle of the road.

Another home invasion robbery gone wrong that happened because of marijuana took place just a few months ago in Morro Bay. In that incident, the robbers were stopped by the tenants of the home in a bloody gun battle as well.

A girl I went to middle school with got shot in Los Osos a few months ago. I also witnessed the scene of a death in a surfing incident in Shell Beach exactly a week after I saw the robber die in Los Osos.

My good friend almost died in a car crash at the edge of a cliff the same night of the shooting I witnessed.

It’s not right that people are dying over marijuana and money. It’s also not right that people think they can just go into other people’s homes and do whatever they want. Everyone wants to be treated with respect and be loved.

Life has unlimited potential if you stay committed to what you believe in and don’t give up on yourself. To all those who are suffering emotionally because of this incident, I send you my blessings. This is an extremely emotional thing to deal with for anyone involved directly or indirectly. Lifetimes can truly be gone in the blink of an eye. I hope by reading this you are reminded of how precious life is.

Dylan Baumann is a Los Osos freelance journalist and student at Cuesta College. Comments or questions regarding this story can be sent to Editor Ed Connolly at
econnolly@newtimesslo.com.




The official version
Much remains unanswered in Los Osos shooting

BY KYLIE MENDONCA

On July 18, SLO County sheriff’s deputies responded to reports of a shooting at 12th Street in Los Osos, just after 7:30 in the evening.

When deputies arrived, they found a young man lying dead in the street. Another man was shot, though not fatally, and rushed to the hospital after an apparent attempted armed robbery.

The street in front of the house was closed to traffic through the night and into the next day, as deputies attempted to put the pieces together: two men entered the house with a gun; one left in a body bag, the other in an ambulance.

The apparent intended victim of the robbery, a young man growing medical marijuana, was at the house when police arrived. He was shaken, but unharmed. Neither was his friend hurt, an unlucky visitor to the house that night.

Neither of the attempted robbery victims’ names has been released, nor have many details of the incident, which was described in initial reports as a “shootout.”

So far, only the dead man’s name has been released, Kelsea (or Kelsey, the spellings from civil and criminal records vary) Grant Alvarez of Templeton, a 20-year-old man with green eyes and a colorful criminal past, dating back to just about the moment he turned 18. At the time of the shooting, Alvarez had an outstanding warrant for probation violations, dating back to a 2008 incident when he led police on a car chase. That incident itself was a violation of a previous probation
agreement. Alvarez was also under court order to stay 100 yards from an Atascadero man at all times.

In January he was convicted of a felony for the chase, and an additional misdemeanor charge for driving without a license. He was sentenced to 180 days jail time, which would have kept him behind bars until July 14, but he served only four days after good behavior credits and credit for time served.

The apparent victim, whose home was invaded that night, could face charges for his role in the shooting, according to sheriff’s spokesman Rob Bryn, because the gun he used in his defense was unregistered. In California possessing an unregistered gun is a crime and when an unregistered gun is used in a crime, the severity of punishment is “enhanced.” Bryn declined to comment on any other details.

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