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GUNMEN INVADE HOME, TERRORIZE 8\1 suspect arrested, 2nd sought after rape, robbery in Lancaster.

Byline: Bhavna Mistry Daily News Staff Writer

One of two men suspected of raping four women and holding four men hostage for more than two hours during a home-invasion robbery early Friday morning was arrested about 12 hours later.

Jeffrey Allen Smith, 29, of Lancaster was arrested at a downtown Lancaster motel after the women provided deputies with a detailed description of their assailants and identified the suspect through photos on file with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.

"The female victims were able to come up with a good physical-characterist ics (description) of the suspects," said sheriff's Sgt. Darell Brown. "There was something on his body that was easily identifiable."

He declined to elaborate about that identifiable characteristic.

By 3:30 p.m., sheriff's deputies had a suspect identified and were able to take Smith into custody without incident. He is being held at the Antelope Valley Sheriff's Station in lieu of $50,000 bail.

According to deputies, two masked men entered an apartment about 1:30 a.m. or 1:45 a.m. in the 2000 block of Westwood Court, where eight people had gathered after a night out on the town. No names of victims were released.

Residents of the apartment are two men in the early 20s. There as guests were two men in their early 30s and four women in their early 20s.

Sheriff's deputies believe the two intruders followed the eight to the apartment, then got in through a garage door that was left open.

During the robbery, one victim threw the keys for his green Mitsubishi Galant to the robbers and pleaded with them just to take his new car, but leave people in the apartment alone, Brown said.

But the intruders, wielding two handguns and dressed in dark clothing and black cloth masks, tied up the men with pieces of white cloth and a belt. Then the gunmen sexually assaulted the women.

Although all the victims obeyed the intruders' orders, one man was physically assaulted, said Deputy Benita Nichol.

A gunman also fired a shot into a wall.

"It seemed to have been fired accidentally," said Brown. "Maybe because of nervousness."

After the intruders left about 4 a.m., taking cash and some personal property, the victims were able to untie themselves and call 911.

"It's really strange," said Shawn Owen, 25, a neighbor of the victims. "I was working on my car until about 2:30 a.m. but I never heard a thing."

Owen said he moved just a month ago from Los Angeles.

"I thought I was getting away from (crime) but it's everywhere," he said.
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Copyright 1996, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Jan 20, 1996
Words:437
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