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January 31, 2023

Update: Four arrested after 45-mile high-speed chase

WATSONVILLE—Four men were taken into custody late Saturday night in Watsonville following a two-county, high-speed chase.

Greenfield Police said the pursuit got underway around 7pm when Greenfield Police officers observed a vehicle commit a traffic violation in the city of Soledad. When the officers attempted to pull the Yukon SUV over, it failed to stop, and drove north on Highway 101 with four men onboard.

As the vehicle raced north, at times speeding more than 100 mph, the occupants began to throw guns out of the window. With the assistance of the Soledad and Gonzales Police Departments, a 9mm Polymer P80 “ghost gun,” a Smith & Wesson M&P .40 Shield, a Smith & Wesson M&P 9mm Shield, and a Glock .40 handgun were found and recovered, police said. 

With a growing line of police agencies following the Yukon, including Salinas, Monterey, CHP, a CHP helicopter, Gonzales, Soledad, Monterey and Santa Cruz, the pursuit swung west on Highway 129 and sped into Watsonville.

The suspects charged down Blackburn Street and into the Watsonville High School campus on Wildcatz Way around 8pm. After swinging a U-turn, the suspects reportedly leapt from their moving SUV which continued to roll forward, across Blackburn Street and then plowed into a wood fence where it came to a rest. 

The occupants then attempted to flee on foot but officers were able to catch up with them and take them into custody.

The suspects were known gang members from Watsonville and had outstanding arrest warrants, according to police. They were lodged at the Monterey County Jail and Juvenile Hall, Gonzales Police said.

“I heard a big crash and saw the car that hit my fence,” said Ramiro Rincon, whose fence was knocked down. “One of the men ran and tried to open my front door. There were a lot of police.”

Additionally, a mother of one of the juvenile suspects attempted to assist her son in fleeing from police by driving to the scene while intoxicated. She was taken into custody for DUI.

On Monday morning the driver of the Yukon walked into Watsonville Police Department and turned himself in, Mattke said. Two suspects are still outstanding.

The investigation is ongoing. Anyone with information is asked to contact Detective Lerma at 831.601.8376 or Sergeant Mattke at 831.233.1302.

Tarmo Hannula
Tarmo Hannula has been the lead photographer with The Pajaronian newspaper in Watsonville since 1997. He also reports on a wide range of topics, including police, fire, environment, schools, the arts and events. A fifth generation Californian, Tarmo was born in the Mother Lode of the Sierra (Columbia) and has lived in Santa Cruz County since the late 1970s. He earned a BA from UC Santa Cruz and has traveled to 33 countries.


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