Five men from South Carolina are under arrest in connection with a robbery and kidnapping at a Berkeley motel.
It all started Saturday night when Berkeley police were called to the Knights Inn on busy University Avenue near Sacramento Street.
"A friend of the victim gave us a call and said that his friend had been kidnapped, and the ransomers were demanding $30,000 in cash," said Officer Byron White, a Berkeley police spokesman.
Officers determined that the victim, a 21-year-old man, was beaten, robbed and kidnapped at gunpoint from the motel, then driven out of the Bay Area while tied up.
Surveillance video from the motel and other evidence led police to believe that the suspects were in Patterson, in the Central Valley.
"It's very unusual for us to get a ransom case, particularly one like this, where the victim is transported so far away," White said.
A Stanislaus County sheriff's deputy spotted the suspect's SUV near an RV park and pulled it over. The victim was found in the vehicle and rescued.
Patterson police recovered an assault rifle with the suspects.
Arrested were Jamikaco Tyrone Thompson, 27; Vacenta Rakey Rice, 27; Antravious Marquis Evans, 19; Racal Jamikaco Thompson, 24; and Rodquavious Mikeon Whitehurst, 20. All are from South Carolina.
Each was arrested on suspicion of kidnapping, robbery, assault-weapon possession - as well as torture because of serious injuries the victim suffered. All are being held without bail.
The motel manager told KTVU that Whitehurst rented the room for about $200 dollars on the night of the incident.
The suspects are the latest to come to the Bay Area to be accused of committing crimes.
Earlier this year, there have been deadly marijuana-related robberies in Pleasant Hill and Sonoma County involving suspects from out of state.
Berkeley police would not specify a motive in the kidnapping but said they're well aware of criminals coming to California.
"There's a trend that's been happening of people coming from the East Coast, robbery crews coming from the East Coast, looking to victimize people on the West Coast," White said.
Police say this was a targeted case that happened to take place in their city.
"I think this is just a location where they met," White said. "I don't have any information that it's somehow specific to Berkeley. I think this could have happened anywhere."