A 19-year-old man is in jail for allegedly stealing a car at gunpoint during what was supposed to be a test drive for a private sale. Investigators said he is a repeat offender, facing charges for two similar crimes.
The victim, who askecd reporters not to share his identity, said he listed the car for sale on Facebook. That’s when he said the suspect, Jesell Luis Rivera Lanza reached out and asked to take it for a test drive.
He remembers meeting with Lanza and two others on April 10 in a parking lot at the Town and Country Village.
The man tells reporters they drove the car for about a mile to the Bed Bath and Beyond parking lot before all three pulled guns out and pointed them at him.
“One pointed a gun at my forehead. One put a gun on my chest. One pointed the gun at my intestine,” the victim said.
The suspects allegedly told him to leave the car and then took off with the vehicle. The victim expressed just how thankful he was to make it out alive.
“If they pulled the trigger and maybe it hit one part of my body that makes me become disabled, I thought, ‘How am I going to feed my family? How am I going to move on with my life?’ But God still wants me to live and do better things,” he said.
The victim shared he came to the US from Nigeria about six to seven years ago and flips cars on the side to help support his family.
He never suspected something like this would happen to him and says it’s made him more cautious about conducting private sales.
“Whoever comes to me now, I have to get their ID before I even let them into my car. I’m also only going to let one person test drive the car at a time if they show up with more people,” he said.
Houston police arrested Lanza on Wednesday, and the victim said his car had been returned to him. The suspect faces charges of aggravated robbery with a deadly weapon.
Lanza’s bond documents stated he faces two other charges for similar crimes. As a result, investigators are asking for a high bond amount because they believe he is likely to re-offend.