FREMONT-- Police say a violent home invader who sprayed a woman in the face with pepper spray when she greeted him at the door and fired his assault rifle during a struggle with her husband may have plotted the brutal attack in advance.

The suspect escaped from the home in the 4800 block of Porter Street, where he rang the doorbell with pepper spray in one hand and an assault rifle in the other at 5:57 p.m. Thursday, police spokeswoman Geneva Bosques said. The man doused the woman in the face when she answered the door, and then wrestled with her husband while still gripping the gun in his hand.

The woman ran from the home with her school-aged son and began screaming in the middle of the street as she made the first of a half dozen 911 calls received from the neighborhood, which dispatchers could not understand through her hysteria, Bosques said. She then ran back into the home to rescue her young daughter, who was hiding under a bed.

The husband was still struggling with the suspect as his wife moved their daughter swiftly through the house, and multiple shots went off as the husband grabbed for the gun, Bosques said. The husband then followed his family across the street to a neighbor's home, leaving the suspect inside the home.


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No one was injured by the gunfire, Bosques said, though the two adults -- both in their 20s -- were treated for injuries from the pepper spray and ensuing fight. The children were not harmed.

Officers responding to the home at 6 p.m. found shell casings in the entryway, an open sliding-glass door and the assault rifle left behind in the backyard, Bosques said. Several homes on Porter Street adjacent to the backyard were evacuated, other residents were ordered to shelter in place, and the neighborhood was swarmed by a SWAT team, who did not find the suspect.

Detectives do not yet know if anything was taken from the home, since the family has not been allowed inside to take inventory while the crime scene is processed for evidence.

"We still do not have a motive in this crime," Bosques said. "It definitely looked like he was prepared to enter this house. Whether or not he knew them, I don't have that information yet."

The suspect is described asLatino, about 30 years old with a long, bushy ponytail, goatee and a skinny build. He has tattoos above both eyebrows, and was last seen wearing a black zip-up gray jacket with red accents, a gray T-shirt and blue pants.

Bosques said the man's hair and tattoos are particularly distinctive, and urges any residents with cameras to check their own surveillance footage for any glimpses of the at-large suspect.

"We are going out to the neighborhood to do a follow-up along Stevenson Boulevard near Blacow," Bosques said. "We do believe that he likely fled on foot out the rear of the home, across Blacow over to Landon, and may have exited through that neighborhood to Omar."

Anyone with information about the incident or with surveillance between the hours of 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. may contact the Investigative Unit at 510-790-6900.

Contact Erin Ivie at eivie@bayareanewsgroup.com. Follow her at Twitter.com/erin_ivie.