Man targeted burglary victims on ethnicity and sexual orientation

PALM SPRINGS, Calif. - A 26-year-old Palm Springs man suspected of targeting people for burglaries based on their ethnicity and sexual orientation was behind bars today.

Paul Claudio Piermartiri, 26, was arrested shortly after 5:30 a.m. Friday at a local hospital, where he'd sought treatment for an injury. Earlier that morning, a 49-year-old man told police he was sleeping in his residence in the 400 block of Bella Cara Way when awoke to find a man standing next to his bed, Palm Springs police Sgt. Harvey Reed said.

``The victim reported that he yelled at the subject, who then ran out of the victim's residence,'' Reed said.

He said officers found evidence at the scene indicating the suspect may have hurt himself, and discovered two residences in the area had been burglarized.

They contacted local hospitals while looking for the suspect, and found Piermartiri, Reed said.

``The officers' investigation led them to believe that Piermartiri had committed the burglaries and targeted the victims based on their ethnicity and sexual orientation,'' he alleged.

Reed said he couldn't elaborate on the ethnicity and sexual orientation allegations because the investigation was ongoing.

Piermartiri was booked at the Larry D. Smith Correctional Facility in Banning on suspicion of burglary, hate crimes and a violation of probation, and is being held without bail. He is expected to be arraigned on Tuesday at the Larson Justice Center in Indio, according to jail records.

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