A suspect arrested in the kidnapping and robbery of a former Fresno County official was described as a man with a "history of violence" -- including several carjackings -- dating back to 2005.
During a Tuesday afternoon news conference, Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer said Renard Brooks, 27, was arrested on suspicion of the Oct. 7 kidnapping and robbery of Tim Casagrande, who was taken on a harrowing ride through the city for several hours before he was left in a southwest Fresno alley with a concussion and scratches.
Brooks is suspected of breaking into Casagrande's northeast Fresno home, stealing items and then kidnapping him at gunpoint after he was tied up with clothing and his face covered with a shirt.
Items stolen at the home were Casagrande's wedding ring, three shotguns, jewelry, a watch, golf clubs and men's suits, Dyer said.
While kidnapped, Brooks allegedly forced Casagrande, 58, who is a former county director of environmental health, to buy fuel at a gas station and pull $300 from an ATM machine in downtown Fresno. Six other attempts to pull cash from the bank were denied, Dyer said.
Video from that ATM was ultimately what led to Brooks' capture. After releasing his photo to media, Brooks told his parole officer that while the photo looked like him, it wasn't, Dyer said.
The parole officer alerted police, who investigated and determined Brooks had committed the crime. A search warrant was served Monday night at 2962 East Huntington Blvd. in southeast Fresno, where Brooks was found and arrested -- wearing Casagrande's wedding ring on a gold chain necklace, Dyer said.
Brooks is being held in Fresno County Jail on 11 counts -- including a variety of kidnapping, battery and theft charges. His bail is set at $950,000.
An alibi claiming Brooks was at another location during the robbery and kidnapping was proved wrong, Dyer said, after investigators received information that Brooks boarded a bus taking him within a few blocks of Casagrande's home the morning of Oct. 7.
After driving around the city, Brooks parked the car and told Casagrande, who was in the back seat, to "count to 99" as Brooks made his escape, Dyer said.
Casagrande then untied himself and called a woman, who called an ambulance, which took him to a hospital.
In a police line-up, Brooks was also identified by Casagrande's wife, who said she saw him near their home on her way to work Oct. 7, Dyer said.
In the past, Brooks held other victims at gunpoint during carjackings to extort money -- including taking an 84-year-old woman on a similar ride in 2005, Dyer said. He was back on the streets in 2006 when police arrested him again for a similar incident -- carjacking a 69-year-old woman after burglarizing her home. As the woman pulled up in her driveway, Brooks came outside and pushed her down holding a knife, Dyer said.
His last arrest was in 2008 when he carjacked an 89-year-old woman and her 62-year-old daughter-in-law while holding a handgun in the Kohl's parking lot in northeast Fresno.
Dyer said police are not sure why Brooks targeted Casagrande and that "it could have been anyone."
Brooks is a "coward" who "preys on elderly victims," Dyer said. He said Brooks needs to be kept off the streets for "many, many years" and said he hopes Monday's arrest will keep him jailed much longer than in the past.
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