Lozano store clerk threatened with 'rape', responding deputy 'attacked'
Tue, 19 Jul 2011 04:29:51 GMT —
A Cameron County Precinct 4 deputy constable is back on the job following a violent encounter with a suspect over the weekend that left him briefly hospitalized.
It happened outside Ortega's Country Store along FM 2925 in the small community of Lozano.
A store clerk who was working alone late Friday evening called authorities for help.
Teresa Avalos said she feared the worst.
"I felt bad because I was by myself," she said. "He started making sexual advances towards me... I was scared... I was all by myself."
Jose Lerma is accused of threatening to rape her.
The convenience store where it allegedly happened had surveillance cameras and clearly posted phone numbers to local authorities on the wall in plain sight behind the register.
Avalos said none of it worked as a deterrent.
Police said Lerma was intoxicated at the time.
Avalos was able to call for help after she sold him beer and then convinced him to leave the store.
She quickly locked the doors.
Precinct 4 Constable Robert Lopez said one his deputies got into a struggle with Lerma while trying to arrest him.
My officer got hit with the elbow of the suspect and when they got into the scuffle and onto the ground... Rio Hondo police were able to get there in time and with the help of Rio Hondo police they were able to subdue the suspect," he said.
Lerma was charged with aggravated assault on a peace officer and resisting arrest.
Despite the arrest, Avalos remains uneasy.
This is the second incident to happen to her while working at Ortega's convenience store.
The business was robbed twice recently.
Avalos was behind the counter at night during an armed robbery in which the suspect turned out to be carrying a pellet gun.
There was also a machete armed robbery.
Avalos said despite the dangers associated with her shift, she has to work at the store to support her three children.
Constable Lopez said her line of work, in a dark and secluded area, is one of the most dangerous in town.
That's why his deputies do daily residential and business check-ups at night to try and prevent illegal activity.
Avalos is thankful for the constable department TMs efforts to protect her and others like her.