May 23, 2014 (El Cajon) -- A Grossmont College student, two sheriff’s deputies and a public safety dispatcher were honored Thursday morning by the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department for actions leading to the arrest of a man who accosted a lone female student as she was getting into her car in the Grossmont College parking structure last October.
Receiving letters of commendation from Sheriff Bill Gore during an awards ceremony Thursday were sheriff’s deputies Felix Santiesteban and Dean Allen, both assigned to duties at Grossmont and Cuyamaca colleges. Receiving civilian commendations were student Javier Partida and campus parking services dispatcher Tiffany Hungerford.
Partida is credited for honking his car horn and scaring off the assailant, then convincing the student to accompany him to the district Public Safety Office to report the crime. Hungerford was recognized for her quick action issuing a campus-wide alert that triggered events leading to the suspect’s arrest just 17 minutes after the assault.
Santiesteban was credited for being the first to spot the suspect and taking him into custody with the assistance of deputies Allen and Jose Gonzalez Marquez, based out of the Santee sheriff’s substation. The victim identified the man arrested as her assailant during a curbside lineup. The defendant remains in custody awaiting trial.
“Had it not been for the keen observation of student Javier Partida as well as his willingness to help someone in need, coupled with his sense of justice to convince the victim to report the crime right away, this very dangerous suspect may have gotten away,” Sheriff’s Department Commander Don Fowler said in a narrative Thursday of the incident. “Additionally, had it not been for dispatcher Tiffany Hungerford's quick thinking in broadcasting the information to start a search, the timing might have been off and the suspect may have been able to walk away undetected.”
Hungerford, whose grandmother and aunt were present for the awards ceremony, said she was “really surprised” by the honor Thursday, which took place at Bob Hope Theater on Marine Corps Air Station Miramar. With a massive American flag as a backdrop and hundreds of sheriff’s deputies in uniform in attendance watching fellow officers receive commendations and promotions, Thursday’s ceremony was an impressive sight.
“I’m a little overwhelmed,” Hungerford said. “I wasn’t expecting it to be quite so big a deal.”