Man identified in wild high-speed chase in Southern California
Police pursuits are nothing new to Southern California.
But Wednesday night’s chase through Los Angeles and Orange counties was one for the ages. For about an hour, a suspect led police on a frenzied high-speed pursuit, twice taking other people’s vehicles, ramming several cars and ramming at least two police cruisers.
And all this was broadcast live on local television.
“This was obviously an incredibly dangerous pursuit involving a suspect who had no regard for public safety, motorists on the road and the police officers involved,” Capt said. Jon Radus, a spokesman for the Fullerton Police Department. “I’m just grateful no one was seriously injured.”
Johnny Anchondo, 32, of Moreno Valley, was arrested Wednesday and charged with violating his probation, according to Sgt. Steve Moreno, who had no information on other possible charges. Anchondo is being held at the Norwalk Sheriff’s Station without bail and on probation.
The chase began around 4:45 p.m. when officers saw the driver of a black Honda Civic committing traffic violations near Auto Center Drive and the 5 Freeway in Fullerton, Radussaid. The man sped away and police followed him to Anaheim.
The suspect then entered an apartment complex, where he parked the Civic and jumped into a white Chevrolet van nearby, KABC-TV Channel 7 video showed.
A police SUV attempted to block the van from the rear, but the driver started and backed into the SUV, repeatedly ramming it before making his way out of the apartment complex.
The van appears to belong to John Reynolds of Anaheim, who told KTLA-TV Channel 5 that he was at Knott’s Berry Farm with his family when the chase began.
Reynolds, who works as a grocer, was unaware his van had been stolen until he received a call from his condominium homeowners association. He then followed the chase on television.
“What do I do with work tomorrow?” Reynolds said he was thinking about the van. “I need this for work. I hope it’s still usable.”
The pursuit crossed LA County, with the suspect driving the van without a left rear wheel and crashing into multiple vehicles, video shows show. The driver rammed another police vehicle, Radus said.
After the van immobilized, sparks flew from its rear wheels and smoke billowed from the engine, the suspect jumped out and ran through the back door into an apartment building in Whittier, video shows.
He emerged from the driveway, followed by several people, including one with a knife, and dogs. The suspect got into a white Chevrolet pickup truck and, trying to escape again, crashed into a gate, narrowly missing a small dog that ran under the vehicle.
Andres Benitez, a resident of the home, told KNBC-TV Channel 4 that he had just returned from work when the man entered his kitchen.
“I was just talking to my mom and we were having a normal conversation when I saw the back door open” and the suspect barged in, he said.
When Benitez reached for a kitchen knife to protect his mother, the man grabbed the keys to his work truck from the kitchen table and ran back outside.
“When I saw him start the truck, my heart just broke,” said Benitez, a landscaper who has started a GoFundMe page to raise money to replace the tools that were in the stolen truck .
The man sped away again, driving on the wrong side of the road and colliding with other vehicles, Radus said. The LA County Sheriff’s Police took over the pursuit.
The chase ended at the 1000 block of Hacienda Boulevard, according to the Sheriff’s Department. The suspect hit another car and was rammed by a police vehicle before pulling into a gas station where, according to KCBS-TV Channel 2, he encountered a pump and attempted to reverse.
The video showed a plume of smoke and flames coming out of the back of the truck.
The deputies opened fire on the suspect, but the sheriff’s department said no one was hit by the shots. A brief standoff ensued until officers with ballistic shields approached the suspect, smashed the driver’s side window and held him with his hands raised.
Three people were hospitalized with accidental injuries, but none with gunshot wounds, KCBS reported. Anchondo also had a minor wrist injury and was taken to hospital but is now in custody.
Adrian Cruz, a viewer, told KCAL-TV Channel 9 that he was injured during the incident and detained by MPs.
Cruz said he was stopped at a stop light in Hacienda Heights when the pursuit suspect crashed into his limousine. A police vehicle then crashed into the pickup and rammed it again into Cruz’s car, video shows.
“Cruz got out of his car and walked around before going back in the driver’s door,” reported KCAL. “Substitutes fanned him out, took him to the ground and arrested him.”
Cruz told the station he was trying to get his family out of the car. He said MPs “attacked” him in front of his family and handcuffed him.
A spokesman for the sheriff’s department told KCAL that deputies arrested Cruz because he refused to get out of the line of fire.
Cruz was released, Deputy Veronica Fantom, a spokeswoman for the sheriff’s department, told the Times on Thursday. She referred further questions to the department’s Norwalk station.
The use of force against Cruz is under investigation, said Sgt. Chris Thoreson, station watch commander.
Thoreson said he could not answer any further questions because of the investigation.
https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2022-11-10/high-speed-chase-california-los-angeles-orange-county-hacienda-heights Man identified in wild high-speed chase in Southern California