FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Fresno Police are dealing with a significant increase in robberies this year, as much as 28-percent in the city.
Five different people, all accused of violent crimes. One suspect in particular, a Fresno man won't forget. "I'm still sad for what he did. But he has to pay for the consequences," said Pastor Aquilas Gaona. He was one of Johnny Maggard's victims, police said.
Maggard is accused of shooting him with a pellet gun while trying to rob the pastor's church and thrift store. "One less criminal that can hurt somebody. you know I could have been seriously hurt, but I had angels protecting me," said Gaona.
Police said surveillance video shows Maggard driving away from the church on Veteran's Day. A 2001 dodge truck was later identified in two other armed robberies in Fresno. Police tracked him down last week. "There's a very strong likelihood Johnny Maggard will never see daylight again as a result of being a third striker and being charged with three armed robberies," said Dyer.
Maggard, like his four other counterparts, were arrested in a string of different robberies over the last month. Their main motivation was likely drugs. "There's no question in all five of these suspects that were taken into custody there was an addiction to methamphetamine," said Dyer.
The arrests come at a time when robberies in the city are up 28-percent. Pastor Gaona and his family are somewhat relieved. "I feel compassion for him. I feel concern for him of his drug addiction. It's sad that it drove him to do this."
Since the assault, they've moved their church to a busier location. Hoping to stay safe, as they start over. "It's a new beginning I believe it's going to be a new year for church of restoration," said Gaona.
Fresno PD seeing big increase in robberies