According to the LAPD, the incident began about 6 p.m. March 20 when three men surrounded Tanya Nguyen as she was parking her vehicle in the 10800 block of Eldora Avenue. One of the men asked the 33-year-old woman if he could borrow her cellphone.
When the victim demurred, the man "punched her in the face and stabbed her multiple times as she sat in her car," LAPD Capt. David Grimes said at a news conference.
The assailant then pushed Nguyen out of the Kia Stinger and continued assaulting her before he and one of his accomplices carjacked her, Grimes said. The third man joined two female accomplices who were waiting in a Volkswagen Jetta.
The two carjackers drove away but quickly struck several parked vehicles on the street, culminating in a head-on collision with one of them, police said. The latter crash was captured on surveillance video. The carjackers fled the scene on foot and were picked up by the Volkswagen, according to investigators.
Firefighter-paramedics transported the victim to a hospital, where she underwent surgery for a punctured lung. Two of her teeth were knocked out in the attack.
"Thankfully, she is going to fully recover and her baby is going to be fine," the LAPD captain told reporters.
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Early on in the investigation, Grimes said, a concerned citizen's photo of the getaway vehicle helped lead officers to the suspects. After running the license plate number, investigators learned that the car had been impounded a week earlier by a gang-enforcement unit in the LAPD's Hollenbeck Division.
When contacted by their Foothill Division counterparts, Hollenbeck officers recalled that a known gang member who lived in the area had been a passenger in the vehicle at the time of the impound.
Five suspects were ultimately located, arrested and charged. They were identified as Christian Reyes, 20, Andrew Bran, 19, Jesus Morales, 18, Christina Luna, 24, and Monica Gomez, 25.
The charges included attempted murder, carjacking, robbery, and hit-and-run, with gang enhancements.
Asked about the motive for the crime, LAPD Detective Armando Acero said the suspects had initially gone to the Sunland-Tujunga neighborhood "to purchase narcotics, and this lady just happened to be coming home at the wrong time when they were there."
After a dispute amongst the five suspects, the detective said, the three men got out of the Volkswagen and saw an opportunity to take Nguyen's car.