California street vendor run over in apparent intentional act, suspect arrested: police

West

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. (KTLA) — A mother of four working as a street vendor was seriously injured after being struck — apparently intentionally — by a vehicle in Southern California, police said.

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The collision, which is being investigated as an assault, took place in San Bernardino, which is east of Los Angeles, NewsNation affiliate KTLA-TV reports.

Marlen Benitez Munoz, far left, is seen in a photo provided by her family.
Marlen Benitez Munoz, far left, is seen in a photo provided by her family.

Officers responded to reports of a food vendor being struck by a vehicle and found the victim with “significant trauma,” according to the San Bernardino Police Department.

She was taken to a hospital where she remains in critical condition. Officials identified her as Marlen Munoz, 28, of San Bernardino.

Family gave the woman’s name as Marlen Benitez Munoz, and said she was fighting for her life in intensive care at the Loma Linda University Medical Center Friday night.

Alejandro Isable, the victim’s brother-in-law, said Munoz was selling fruit at the corner when a black SUV plowed through her food stand, striking her. KTLA obtained video from a nearby security camera that captured the moment of impact.

Investigators believe the driver intentionally ran over the victim, based on witness statements and evidence recovered at the scene, police said.

San Bernardino police released this undated photo of Robert Spargo.
San Bernardino police released this undated photo of Robert Spargo.

A motive is not yet known. Family members believe the assault could have been racially motivated.

Authorities arrested the suspect, 42-year-old Robert Spargo, and booked him on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon.

Detectives said they found several empty aerosol spray cans in the SUV, leading them to suspect he was under the influence.

Munoz has four daughters, according to Isable, who is now caring for her children. Munoz recently began commuting daily from their home in Vernon to work as a vendor, he told KTLA. 

Isable said Munoz has been unresponsive in the hospital, but doctors are hopeful.

GoFundMe campaign set up to raise funds for Munoz’s recovery described her as being in a coma. More than $24,000 had been raised by Friday night.

Jail records indicate Spargo is being held on $500,000 bail.

No further details have been released amid the ongoing investigation.

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