Suspect arrested in robbery of gay Atlanta man

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Atlanta police arrested the 57-year-old man they say kidnapped and robbed a gay man at gunpoint after he tried to con him into paying for repairs after disabling his vehicle.

Pedro Soto (second photo) faces charges of armed robbery, kidnapping, theft by taking, false imprisonment, aggravated assault and possession of tools for the commission of a crime for his alleged role in the June 25 incident on Pone de Leon Avenue.

Soto fled after allegedly forcing Ali Rodriguez (top photo) into his Jeep Liberty, making him drive to a nearby convenience store and demanding that he buy him a carton of Newport cigarettes. Soto took Rodriguez's debit card, passport, driver's license and $300 in cash from the center console, according to a police report. He threatened to shoot Rodriguez if he turned around and then fled on foot, Rodriguez said.

On Tuesday, a police officer patrolling near Parkway Drive and North Avenue spotted Soto about 6 p.m. and arrested him without incident, according to an Atlanta police spokesperson.

Rodriguez told Project Q Atlanta after the incident that when his vehicle wouldn't start, he stepped out to investigate and Soto appeared from underneath the SUV. He claimed to have fixed it and demanded money from Rodriguez, who refused.

Then the man, carrying a screwdriver and wrench, put his right hand in his pocket and motioned that he had a gun. The assailant demanded that Rodriguez get in the car and drive him to a nearby convenience store.

“It wasn't right what he did, especially with the gun,” Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez, a fitness trainer and club promoter, said he doubts that Soto targeted him over his sexual orientation. Instead, he said his Jeep offers enough ground clearance that Soto could easily crawl under it and dismantle it.

“I think he just wanted money. He could target anyone. I don't think it was because I am gay,” Rodriguez said.

Police said Soto has attempted scamming drivers in the past by disabling their vehicles and then offering to repair them for cash.

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