Man arrested for Home Invasion Robbery with Elderly Victim

Austin police say they've arrested a man who committed a home invasion robbery in which the victim is an 86-year-old woman.

On January 8th, Austin police got an emergency call from the company that manufactures Life Alert summoning them to a home in South Austin.

When police arrived, the elderly woman at the residence told them a man who had done some yard work for her in the past, came to her door just before noon asking to do another job.

When she told him no, Sgt. William White says this happened, "He forced his way into the residence demanded food and money from her. She was worried he was actually going to try and sexually assault her. Upon going farther into the house, the suspect noticed car keys in the house and then he grabbed those car keys. She took that opportunity to hit her Life Alert button."

Life Alert activated a system on the woman's phone and scared the man away. Hours later, officers found her car.

They say 21-year-old Luis Zuniga-Gutierrez was driving it. He was arrested and charged with aggravated robbery by assault.

This is the second time in recent months that a person hired for lawn work has been arrested for a violent crime.

On December 6th choir teacher 53-year-old Kathy Blair was found dead inside her home in North Austin.

Over the weekend, police announced the arrests of Shawn Gant-Benalcazar and Tim Parlin in connection to her murder. Parlin had previously been hired by Blair's landlord to put in a French drain in Blair's yard.

Sgt. White has this caution for homeowners.

"My recommendation would be if you're going to hire people they should be people you already know or are familiar with, that you've got recommendations for," he said. 'There's also all sorts of websites that will give you recommendations on people that will do work for you from legitimate companies, but if you hire someone off the street, you run that risk of hiring somebody that has intentions other than just to work on your yard."

As for the elderly woman, white says she, fortunately, was not injured.

"She's definitely lucky that everything turned out the way it did," said White.

Zuniga-Gutierrez has been deported twice. He was convicted of terroristic threat for assaulting a girlfriend in 2013. She told officers he hit her and held a knife to her throat. He served 100 days in the Travis County Jail for that crime.

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