Police pursuits are nothing new for Southern California.
But the chase that occurred Wednesday evening across Los Angeles and Orange counties was one for the ages. For more than an hour, a suspect led police on a dangerous pursuit, twice stealing vehicles, hitting multiple cars and ramming into at least two police cruisers.
And it was all broadcast live on local TV.
“This was obviously an incredibly dangerous pursuit involving a suspect who had zero regard for public safety, for the motorists on the street and the police officers involved,” said Jon Radus, a Fullerton Police Department spokesperson.
Johnny Anchondo, 32, of Moreno Valley was arrested Wednesday.
Here is a full video of the incident from KABC-TV Channel 7.
Here is a timeline of what happened:
Fullerton: Chase begins
Officers saw the driver of a black Honda Civic commit traffic violations near Auto Center Drive and the 5 Freeway in Fullerton, according to Radus.
The man sped off and police followed him into Anaheim, where he got on and off the 91 Freeway at least once, Radus said.
Anaheim: Ramming into police SUV
The suspect then entered an apartment complex, under chase from police, authorities said. He parked the Civic and saw a white Chevrolet van parked nearby and jumped into it, according to video footage. A police vehicle blocked the truck from behind. But the suspect managed to get the engine going and backed into the police SUV.
He continued to ram the SUV repeatedly before he could get out, video shows. The van then moved out of the complex, passing more police cars that were entering the apartment complex.
The owner of the van, Anaheim resident John Reynolds, told KTLA-TV Channel 5 he did not know that his van had been stolen until he got a call from the homeowner association manager at his housing complex. He then watched the chase unfold on television.
“What am I going to do about work tomorrow?” Reynolds thought about the van. “I need that for work. I’m hoping it’s still usable.”
Whittier: Breaking into house, stealing truck, confronting residents
The chase moved into Los Angeles County, with the suspect driving without a left rear wheel on the van and ramming into multiple vehicles, according to video footage. A police cruiser approached the van from behind and the suspect tried to drive forward, but the van became disabled, causing sparks to fly from the van’s back wheels and smoke to come out from the engine.
The man, clad in all black, eventually jumped out of the van and ran into a residence through the home’s back door, according to the video. He emerged in the driveway, followed by several residents, including one wielding a knife, and several dogs. He jumped into a white Chevrolet pickup truck and smashed into a gate to escape, narrowly missing a small dog running under the vehicle.
Andres Benitez of Whittier 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 burst in, he said.
When Benitez grabbed a kitchen knife to protect his mother, the man snatched the keys to his work truck from the kitchen table and ran back outside.
“When I saw him start up the truck my heart just broke,” Benitez said.
Benitez, a landscaper, has started a GoFundMe page to help raise money to replace the tools that were in the stolen truck.
Hacienda Heights: A dramatic end
The chase ended in 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 driving into a gas station, where he hit a pump and tried to back up.
Video footage showed a cloud of smoke and flames appearing to come out of the back of the truck.
Deputies opened fire on the suspect, but it was unclear whether he was struck. A brief standoff ensued until deputies approached the suspect with ballistic shields, broke the driver’s side window and detained him while he had his hands up.
Anchondo was arrested at about 6 p.m., according to police. He is currently being held at the Norwalk sheriff’s station without bail and on a parole hold.
Three people had been hospitalized with crash-related injuries but no one was there because of a gunshot wound, KCBS-TV Channel 2 reported. Anchondo also had a slight injury to his wrist and was taken to a hospital but is now in custody.
Adrian Cruz, a bystander, told KCAL-TV Channel 9 that he was injured and detained by deputies during the incident.
Cruz said he was stopped at a traffic signal in Hacienda Heights when the pursuit suspect bumped into his sedan. A law enforcement vehicle then pushed the pickup truck farther into his car, according to the news station.
Cruz told the news station that he was trying to get his family out of the car. He said the encounter was violent and that the deputies “attacked” him in front of his family and handcuffed him.
A Sheriff’s Department spokesperson told KCAL that deputies detained Cruz because he refused to get out of the line of fire.