Lyft driver's video played key role in arrest made in South El Monte attack, LASD says

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Friday, May 21, 2021
Details announced in arrest of man suspected of attacking Lyft driver
A man arrested on suspicion of robbing and pistol-whipping a Lyft driver in South El Monte was a convicted felon on probation, authorities said Thursday.

SOUTH EL MONTE, Calif. (KABC) -- Dashcam video that captured a violent robbery and pistol-whipping of a Lyft driver at a South El Monte gas station played a key role in the arrest of a 26-year-old suspect, Los Angeles County sheriff's officials said Thursday.

Dandre Lorenz Powell of Downey was arrested Tuesday in Paramount, where he was staying at a motel. He was taken into custody in a car and had a gun, sheriff's officials said.

Powell has a criminal history of violence, including two felony convictions, and was on probation at the time of the attack, sheriff's officials said. Further details were not immediately available.

With the help of federal Marshals, L.A. County sheriff's detectives were able to arrest him. Powell is suspected in the May 10 attack on 67-year-old Lyft driver Paul Liao in South El Monte.

Sheriff's officials say they have been told by prosecutors that Powell will face charges of first-degree robbery, victimizing someone over the age of 65 in a violent crime, and being a felon possessing a gun and ammunition.

Prosecutors didn't immediately comment.

RELATED: Man robs, pistol-whips Lyft driver at South El Monte gas station

Authorities are looking for a suspect seen on video pistol-whipping a Lyft driver and robbing him of $1,560 in cash at a South El Monte gas station.

"To the victim and his family, I send my dearest sympathy for all of the trauma this has caused," Sheriff Alex Villanueva said at a news conference. "I know that you're extremely frightened and you took the job as a rideshare driver to provide for your family during these difficult times with a pandemic."

The dashcam video, which was recorded on the driver's camera, shows a man with a handgun getting in the backseat of the car at the ARCO station at Rush Street and Rosemead Boulevard. Twice during the encounter, the suspect beat the driver in the face with the gun.

Family says Liao was robbed of about $1,500. He required hospitalization.

According to detectives, the video allowed them to identify the suspect.

"Within an hour of receiving and viewing that video by myself, detectives and our crime analysts, utilizing department resources, we were able to make a very, very good assumption of who our suspect was," said LASD Sgt. Richard Lewis.

"Without his video, we may have never been able to identify the suspect," said LASD Temple Station Capt. Mark Reyes.

Tips from the public called into the sheriff's department shortly after the video was released helped detectives find Powell in Paramount.

Powell remained jailed Thursday on $2 million bail and it wasn't immediately clear whether he had an attorney who could speak on his behalf.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.