Marine shot during necklace robbery plugged bullet wounds with fingers.

December 30, 2011 | By Ihosvani Rodriguez, Sun Sentinel

DEERFIELD BEACH — One bullet went through his belly and lodged in his pelvis, while a second sliced through his chest and out his shoulder. Yet another grazed the back of his skull.

Shot and wounded while chasing thieves on foot, Lt. Col. Karl Trenker said he did what he had been trained to do as a 29-year veteran of the U.S. Marines with tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"Running with bullet holes wasn't working out well, so I plugged them up with my fingers," Trenker said Friday.

Trenker, 48, was not injured on the battlefield, but in an apartment complex parking lot in Deerfield Beach where he had gone to sell a necklace to a Craigslist buyer-turned-robber.

Father and stepfather to seven children, Trenker was released Friday from North Broward Medical Center, nine days after the shooting. Emergency physician Dr. Igor Nichiporenko, who removed part of Trenker's bowel and left a bullet in his pelvis, attributed the fact that Trenker is alive to his military training and lifestyle. "When you hear someone is coming in with multiple gunshot wounds, you are concerned," Nichiporenko said. "He was in bad shape."

Trenker spoke several hours after leaving the hospital. He said he feels pain where a 10-inch surgery wound now crosses his stomach area. He walks with a slight limp, but that is expected to fade. He recounted the moments leading up to the shooting, and described the actions that led his fiancee and doctor to refer to him as "Superman."

On Dec. 21, Trenker and four of his children — ages 7, 8, 9 and 12 — drove from their home in Miramar to the Tivoli Gardens apartments in Deerfield Beach to sell an 18-inch gold necklace to a man who had identified himself as Galven.

Trenker's fiancee, Tonya Saiz, had put an advertisement on Craigslist several days earlier, hoping to sell the jewelry to raise some extra holiday money. But when, at the last minute, she could not show up for the sale, Trenker volunteered to go.

The transaction was scheduled for 3:30 p.m. in the apartment complex's parking lot. Trenker said there were no immediate signs that the deal was a setup. His children waited inside his white Chevy Avalanche.

"It looked like some guy who wanted to buy a necklace," he said. According to Trenker, the men who met him spoke briefly about the necklace. One suddenly snatched it and ran. Trenker gave chase.

The men ran over a footbridge and into some brush. One of the supposed necklace buyers turned and fired 10 shots, emptying a .22-caliber pistol.

The first bullet he took to the chest made Trenker angry and more determined to run harder, he said. But "when I felt the second shot, I re-evaluated that decision and figured I needed to stay alive," he said.

"My first thought was to run back and make sure my children were safe. I was bleeding, so I improvised and stuck my fingers in the bullet holes." A witness, heard in a recorded 911 call, reassured Trenker that authorities were on the way.

But the Marine, his fingers plugging his wounds, said he returned to his vehicle to check on his kids. They were OK.

Deputies later arrested Jeff Steele and James Flounory, both 20, and charged each with attempted murder and robbery with a firearm. A third suspect, Andre Gayle, 20, is accused of concealing the firearm after the shooting.

Steele and Flounory live in Deerfield Beach. Gayle's hometown was not immediately available.

Trenker, who has served in Iraq and Afghanistan training those countries' militaries, said he's never been shot at overseas. He was disappointed to have it happen at home.

"You hear about all the crime on the news, but it doesn't seem real until it happens to you," he said. Trenker said Friday his immediate plan was to finally have a holiday meal. The family then plans on a long vacation so he can fully recover.

Trenker, who is on active duty, plans to return to work at the U.S. Southern Command, based in Miami-Dade County, where he assists in drug busts in Central America.

When asked Friday whether he would ever run after a gunman again, Trenker said he would.

"I am a Marine. I am trained not to run from a fight," he said.

ijrodriguez@tribune.com; 954-356-4605; @GeoRodriguez on Twitter

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Craigslist diamond ad leads to deadly home invasion, police say

May 07, 2010|By Gabriel Falcon, AC360 Writer.

Clabron Berniard surrendered on Thursday; Kiyoshi A. Higashi was arrested during the May 1 car stop.

Four suspects have been charged with first-degree murder in connection with a home invasion that began with an ad on Craigslist, Washington state authorities said Friday.

Three of the suspects were arrested on May 1. A fourth suspect, Clabon Terrel Berniard, 23, turned himself in Thursday, police said.

Berniard and the others are accused of killing a man on April 28 in Edgewood, a city outside Tacoma. They are charged with first-degree murder, robbery and assault.

The case began when James Sanders and his wife posted an ad on Craigslist offering a diamond ring for $1,050, said Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist.

Sanders arranged to meet prospective buyers of the ring at the family's home, the prosecutor said.

"Two people show up and act like a couple looking for a ring for the mother-in-law," Lindquist said. But once they entered the house, he said, the man posing as the husband pulled out a handgun.

The victim, his wife, and their sons, ages 14 and 10, were restrained with plastic handcuffs, Lindquist said.

Two other suspects then entered the home. One pistol-whipped the older son, he said. Sanders broke out of his restraints and attempted to defend the 14-year-old, and was shot three times, the prosecutor said.

"While this is going on," Lindquist said, "other bad guys are kicking Mom in the head while she's lying on the floor."

The three suspects arrested in May were caught in California after a traffic stop. They have been identified as Kiyoshi A. Higashi, 22, of Tacoma; Joshua N. Reese, 20, also from Tacoma; and Amanda C. Knight, 21, from Sumner.

Knight posted bail in California and subsequently surrendered to authorities in Sumner on Tuesday, authorities said. She pleaded not guilty at her arraignment. Her bail was set at $2 million. Higashi, Reese and Berniard are expected to be arraigned next week.

The killing came a year after a medical student in Boston, Massachusetts, was charged with killing a woman who advertised a massage service on Craigslist.

"You hate to tell people to be wary of your fellow citizens, but the reality is you've got to be wary when you are doing something when interacting with strangers on Craigslist," prosecutor Lindquist said.

"This is a cautionary tale."

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Craigslist 'robberies by appointment' turn violent By Bob Sullivan

The sleepy suburban neighborhood in Bogota, N.J., looked safe when Michael pulled up to meet the man who had offered to buy his MacBook after seeing an ad on Craigslist.

And everything seemed perfectly normal when the buyer walked up to his car and began counting out cash. But then a second man appeared seemingly out of nowhere and shoved a shotgun in Michael's face. "It was pretty terrifying," said Michael, who let the pair take the computer from his trunk, then watched them run off into the night.

"I thought they were going to take the car." The robbery is just one example of a disturbing new kind of theft that blends cybercrime with the physical dangers of real crime.

Across the country, Craigslist users who agree to meetings in seemingly safe places are being robbed at gunpoint, pistol-whipped and, in at least one case, murdered.

In Chicago, police call it "robbery by appointment." Just last week, the city of Oakland, Calif., issued a wide-ranging warning about Craigslist-related car sales.

A gang there has progressed from one theft per week to one per day, stealing thousands of dollars from victims using ads on Craigslist to lure them into meetings. The police now have an entire investigative team dedicated to tracking them down.

"They are getting more blatant and violent," said Oakland police spokeswoman Holly Joshi. "The last (victim) got pretty beat up. Right now it's a top priority for us."

Craigslist robbers appear to be much more sophisticated than the criminals that Web users routinely encounter. Their ads are indistinguishable from normal for sale items, Joshi said.

They return phone calls using local phone numbers; they offer to meet in public places, foiling much of the "safe surfing" advice that's been given for years.

Among the more disturbing elements of the crimes: Many are taking place in broad daylight or early evening hours, and in what seem to be safe neighborhoods. "Meeting in a public place really is not good enough," Joshi warned.

She said most crimes there are occurring between 2 and 6 p.m. "Residential areas can be relatively isolated during the day." That's what happened to Michael, who asked that his last name be withheld.

He met his suspects in a nice neighborhood in Bogata, about 10 miles west of New York City, only a few blocks from the police station -- but the block itself was quiet and empty during the incident. Nothing seemed unusual about the transaction until the gun appeared, Michael said. But in retrospect, he thinks he should have been surprised that the buyers didn't make any attempts to negotiate the price with him.

"They were just very concerned with setting up a meeting," he said. "That was the only thing that was strange." Michael got off easy, losing only his used computer. A scan of incidents around the country show much more dire consequences for some other Craigslist users.

In Raleigh, N.C., a man's car was sprayed with bullets by Craigslist robbers earlier last year, while a woman in Newport Beach, Calif., was pistol whipped during an alleged bicycle sale.

There have been a string of dirt-bike related Craigslist robberies in Ohio, and just before Christmas, an Ohio man was shot in the jaw during one incident.

In Stafford, Va., criminals allegedly selling deep-discounted iPhones brazenly invited consumers to meet them on the steps of the county courthouse. And in Sarasota, Fla., police issued a warning on New Year's Eve after a similar string of iPhone-related armed robberies.

The most dramatic Craigslist appointment robbery occurred last year in rural Pierce County in Washington state, when four suspects allegedly went to a home with robbery plans in response to a diamond ring offered for sale on the site.

After a violent exchange, police say, homeowner James Sanders was shot and killed while his wife and child looked on. All four suspects are now in custody awaiting trial. Craigslist robberies are so common that Trench Reynolds, who hosts an anti-Craigslist site named CraigsCrimeList.org, chronicles them in a "robbery" category.

Reynolds said robberies that originate with a Craigslist contact have remained fairly constant during the past several years, but are only now attracting media attention. "They don't always result in someone getting shot in the face like in Ohio, but they are fairly frequent," he said.

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Two Men Arrested In Craigslist Theft Scam December 28, 2011 7:43 PM

ATLANTA – (WAOK) Clayton county authorities say two Decatur area men are behind bars, and facing multiple charges in connection with an alleged car theft scam.

Investigators say Dalvin Walker, Jr., and Rashon Brown, both 19, are accused of luring potential car buyers into a trap, then robbing them.

They say the suspects advertised a car for sale on Craigslist, set up the buy, then robbed a couple at gunpoint, when they arrived at a vacant home in the Lake Spivey Country Club subdivision, to get the car, taking the money, and the victim's car.

Police say Walker and Brown face charges of armed robbery, aggravated assault, hijacking and theft by taking. Investigators say Walker is under investigation for similar crimes in DeKalb County. No one was hurt in this latest incident, and police say the car for sale turned out to be stolen.