Two California Highway Patrol officers trying to arrest a robbery suspect who led officers on a pursuit from Orange County were hit by the man’s car and injured in Solana Beach early Thursday, April 25, authorities said.The officers, who were outside of their cars when they were hit, opened fire at the suspect, authorities said. He was apparently not struck by the gunfire.
Sheriff’s officials identified the suspect Thursday evening, April 25, as Frankie John Arellano Garduno, 29.
He was being held Thursday, April 25, at the Vista Detention Center in lieu of $150,000 bail on suspicion of two felony counts of assault with a deadly weapon on a peace officer causing great bodily injury and felony evading.
After being shot at and allegedly striking the officers with his car, Garduno drove several miles before crashing off La Floresta near Linea Del Cielo and abandoning the vehicle, San Diego County Sheriff’s Lt. Michael Blevins said. Garduno was located by officers and arrested around 5:50 a.m.
Investigators allegedly found a gun near the site where the car was abandoned, Blevins said.
The two officers hit by the car were transported to the hospital with what were described as moderate injuries, including one who suffered a broken ankle, the CHP said. Their names were not released.
According to Blevins, the shooting portion of the incident is being investigated by the Sheriff’s Department’s homicide unit, which routinely investigates officer-involved shootings in its jurisdiction. It wasn’t immediately clear how many officers opened fire.
The chase began after witnesses called Orange County authorities about 4:20 a.m. to report seeing a man with a gun in a Chevron gas station on Alicia Parkway near Interstate 5 in Laguna Hills, Orange County Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman Carrie Braun said.
Deputies would later learn that the man reportedly had tried to hold up the gas station clerk, but fled empty-handed when customers interrupted the failed heist. Witnesses reported that the man took off in a black Dodge Charger headed toward I-5.
A deputy who happened to be in the area spotted a Charger run a red light — the only traffic light between the gas station and the nearby freeway — and tried to pull over the driver, who instead jumped on the freeway headed south, Braun said.
Orange County deputies chased the car south to around the San Diego County line, where California Highway Patrol officers took over the pursuit.
CHP officers attempted to use a spike strip to stop the car near Harbor Drive in Oceanside, but it was unsuccessful, Blevins said.
“The guy is off and on the freeway, exiting and getting back on. Then he exits at Lomas Santa Fe,” CHP Officer Tommy Doerr said.
About a mile east of the freeway, CHP officers purposely crashed into the car — known by law enforcement as a “vehicle intervention technique” or PIT maneuver. The tactic worked, and CHP officers attempted to arrest the suspect.
“Garduno refused to comply with instructions to exit his vehicle. He drove his vehicle away and struck two officers with his vehicle as he fled,” Blevins said in a statement Thursday evening, April 25. “Fearing for their safety, CHP officers shot at Garduno in an attempt to prevent him from further injuring any officers. Garduno was not struck by the gunfire and he was able to drive off.”
Officers found the vehicle abandoned a couple miles away around 5:11 a.m., sheriff’s Lt. Amber Baggs. After a search of the area, Garduno was arrested around 5:50 a.m.
--- Karen Kucher and Teri Figueroa are reporters for The San Diego Union-Tribune