If You See a Prosthetic Leg or the Gangster Accused of Severing the Real One, Call a Cop
Call it two-fer Thursday. That's when police in Buena Park and Santa Ana announced they are seeking a former Marine's stolen prosthetic leg and the gang member accused of causing the fellow to lose his real leg in the first place.
It's all very confusing, so we'll start with the day after Thanksgiving 2010, when the son of Juan Hernandez, then attached to both his natural legs, told some gang members to stop tagging a wall across from his Santa Ana home.
Hernandez and his son then got into a verbal argument with the gangsters, who left to go get more of their gangster friends, sparking a second confrontation. When Hernandez told the men he was going to call the cops, he was run over and would go on to lose a leg.
The attack was featured on the Jan. 6, 2012, episode of the syndicated television show America's Most Wanted, whose producers convinced SCOPE/Hanger Inc. to donate to Hernandez a custom-designed and fitted prosthetic leg valued at $30,000-$50,000, recalled Cpl. Anthony Bertagna, the Santa Ana Police spokesman. It's a high end C Brace Orthotronic Mobility System in case you see it in a pawn shop.
But bad luck struck Hernandez again May 26, when he visited Knott's Berry Farm's Sunday tribute to military veterans. He left his prosthetic leg in his Chevrolet Silverado while moving around the theme park in a wheelchair with his family.
Well, someone stole the truck with the fake leg still inside.
Appealing to the public to help find the leg may have reminded Bertagna that there is an outstanding suspect in the gang attack as Santa Ana Police announced a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of Jose Luis Berruette, who is believed to be the driver who ran over Hernandez and is wanted on suspicion of attempted murder.
Wanted: Jose Berruette
The 24-year-old, who may have fled to Mexicali, Mexico, may have lost weight and gained an alias, Luis Avila. He stands 6 feet 2 and was last known to weigh 220 pounds.
Anyone who knows the whereabouts of Berruette or Hernandez's leg can leave anonymous tips by calling Orange County Crimestoppers at 855.847.6227.
On the next page, another look at the prosthetic leg, Hernandez's Silverado and Berruette: