Man punches 81-year-old at gas station and steals her car, police say

A police pursuit of about 20 minutes stretched from the Westchester area to Harvard Heights.
(Los Angeles Times)

A carjacker led police on a wild pursuit Thursday, ultimately crashing into a cruiser in a vehicle he stole from an 81-year-old grandmother he attacked at a gas station, authorities said.

Marlene Martin was filling her car with gas at a Chevron in the 7500 block of South Sepulveda Boulevard in the Westchester area just before 4 p.m. Thursday when a man approached her and asked for a ride, Los Angeles police said.

She told authorities she dismissed the man and he walked away but returned moments later, luring Martin from her car by saying her gas tank wasn’t closed properly. The man then punched Martin and continuing to attack after she had fallen, police said.


“He kicked me after I was on the ground,” Martin told KNBC-TV Channel 4, pointing to her bandaged face.

The suspect, identified by the Los Angeles Police Department as Albert Johnson, 48, of Los Angeles, got into Martin’s white Toyota sedan and fled, authorities said. He led police on a chase, driving erratically and bouncing from one side of the street to the other.

About 20 minutes into the pursuit, video shows the driver crashing head-on into a police cruiser near Westmoreland and Washington boulevards in Harvard Heights. The man gets out via the driver’s side window and flees on foot before being tackled by four police officers.

Johnson was taken into custody and booked into jail on $235,000 bail. Police said he had a prior arrest warrant.