FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) --A heart-stopping moment for the first victim led to an arrest in a series of criminal blunders.
"I feel like me being an idiot trying to escape was the thing that made them run out," said the man who asked to be identified as Jacob B.
Two suspects ended their morning in police cars after a failed home invasion, a failed carjacking, and a failed escape. Jacob B. had called 911 from inside his home and almost collided with the suspects as they ran away. Police say a helicopter followed the guys away from the home and officers were when the escape attempt, quite literally, ran out of gas.
The suspects' car stalled on Herndon when the tank went empty, but the guys kept going. Police say they tried to find another car, caused a minor crash, and then tried to just disappear inside the Target store here.
By the time officers arrested Zakkery Atkins for a clumsy crime spree in northwest Fresno, the 18-year-old had made a slight wardrobe adjustment. Police say Atkins grabbed a red sweatshirt from inside Target, trying to get the bullseye off his own back by disguising himself as an employee. But, a real employee pointed him out to officers and his attempt to escape came to an end.
It started in a neighborhood just a couple miles away. As he sat handcuffed in the back of another police car, Marquece Pikes told Action News he had no idea Atkins was going to break into a home. "He goes to the door, he kicks the door and I guess someone's inside there," Pikes said. "He took off running and jumped in the car and drove off."
"All of a sudden I heard this boom and not knowing what the sound of a door being kicked in before, I just knew what it was immediately," said Jacob B. of the break-in.
Jacob says he called 911 pretty quickly when he didn't recognize the two people outside, ringing his doorbell and knocking. Seconds later, he was left with splintered wood and a broken lock as the guys drove away in a gray car. His 911 call alerted a police helicopter to follow the car and when it ran out of gas outside the El Paseo shopping center, officers watched as the guys looked for another car to steal.
Police say the damage to a car in the parking lot can be traced to another almost-victim trying to avoid a carjacking. "They locked the doors," said Lt. Joe Gomez of the Fresno Police Department. "He tried to get in, tried the door. They were so scared, they backed up and the back of the car rammed into the cement dumpster."
Atkins was actually wearing an ankle monitor because he's on probation, but his priors were before he turned 18, so they're not public information.
Pikes told an Action News reporter he didn't have any criminal record, but we checked, and he does. He was convicted of felony theft in 2013.