Man suspected of car theft appears in court

By Jessica Prokop, Columbian Courts Reporter

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A man who allegedly robbed a woman of her purse and car at gunpoint, then led police on a chase the next day, crashing the stolen car in the process, made a first appearance Friday in Clark County Superior Court.

Rafael Loera-Luna, 22, of Vancouver faces allegations of first-degree kidnapping, hit-and-run resulting in injury, attempting to elude police, theft of a motor vehicle, possession of a stolen vehicle, first-degree robbery and possession of heroin, court records show.

At about 6 a.m. Oct. 23, a man, later identified by police as Loera-Luna, entered the workplace of Celia Aparicio in the 3300 block of East Fourth Plain Boulevard wearing a bandana. He pulled a handgun from his waistband and demanded her money. He took her purse that also contained her car keys and drove off in her orange Kia Rio, according to a probable cause affidavit.

The following day, police spotted the stolen car and tried to stop it, but the driver sped off. A pursuit ensued, during which the driver ran stop signs and eventually crashed into an occupied vehicle near Northeast Andresen Road and Buena Vista Drive, the affidavit said. The driver ran from the scene.

The occupants in the other vehicle, Andrei Romanieu and Anatoliy Zaduba, complained of pain and were transported via ambulance to a local hospital, court records state.

Police later located a passenger who was in the Kia, and she identified the suspect driver as Loera-Luna, according to court documents. And during a search of the stolen car, police found heroin and a backpack that contained a mask worn in the armed robbery and a black air gun, court records said.

Loera-Luna was arrested Thursday, and he admitted to committing the armed robbery and driving the stolen Kia. However, he denied being involved in the crash, the affidavit states.

During Friday’s hearing, Judge John Fairgrieve set Loera-Luna’s bail at $75,000. He will be arraigned Nov. 14.