Anatomy of one of the wildest police pursuits Southern California has ever seen

A truck and several patrol cars at a gas station
A high-speed chase that led authorities through Los Angeles and Orange counties ends after the driver of the stolen truck is rammed by a patrol car at a gas station in Hacienda Heights on Wednesday night.
(KTLA-TV Channel 5)

Police pursuits are nothing new for Southern California.

But the chase across Los Angeles and Orange counties on Wednesday evening was one for the ages. For about an hour, a suspect led police on a dangerous pursuit, twice taking other people’s 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.

UPDATE: A grand jury cited the below analysis by the L.A.

Nov. 10, 2016


Johnny Anchondo, 32, of Moreno Valley was arrested.

Here is a full video of the incident from KABC-TV Channel 7.

Here is a timeline of what happened:

Two people put a gurney with a person on it into an ambulance.
The suspect is taken away in an ambulance in Hacienda Heights.
  • 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, Radus said.
The man sped off and police followed him into Anaheim, where he got on and off the 91 Freeway at least once, Radus said.

A screenshot shows vehicles on a freeway at night.
A stolen truck speeds on the 60 Freeway eastbound during a police chase.
  • ANAHEIM: Ramming into police SUV, stealing van

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. A police vehicle blocked the van from behind. But the suspect managed to get the engine going and backed into the police SUV.

For about as long as L.A. has had roads, we’ve had cops chasing speeding cars. Now they are live TV spectacles, sometimes ending in broadcast tragedy.

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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 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.”

A man is running
The suspect runs away and into a home in Whittier.
  • WHITTIER: Entering a house, taking a 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. 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 back wheels and smoke to come out from the engine.
The man, clad in dark clothing, eventually jumped out of the van and ran into a residence in Whittier through the home’s back door, according to the video. He emerged in the driveway, chased 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.

Johnny Anchondo was charged with violating his parole after allegedly leading authorities on a high-speed car chase through Los Angeles and Orange counties.

Nov. 10, 2022

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department took over the investigation, confirming that the suspect had crashed the vehicle in the 12200 block of Inez Street and forced himself into the house with people inside.

Andres Benitez 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 truck.

A truck crashes into another vehicle as two patrol cars pursue from behind
The suspect crashes into another vehicle as patrol cars pursue.
  • HACIENDA HEIGHTS: A dramatic end

The chase ended in the 1000 block of Hacienda Boulevard in Hacienda Heights, according to the Sheriff’s Department. Deputies said they had found and pursued the suspect but then lost sight of the truck on a freeway. Police found the vehicle again; the suspect hit another car and collided with a police vehicle before driving into a gas station, where he hit a pump and tried to reverse.
Video showed a cloud of smoke and flames appearing to come out of the back of the truck.

Deputies opened fire on the suspect, but said no one was hit in the shooting. 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 about 6 p.m., according to police. He is being held at the Norwalk sheriff’s station without bail and on a parole hold.

After an attempted traffic stop in Fullerton, the driver led law enforcement on a pursuit into L.A. County involving three different vehicles, authorities said.

Nov. 9, 2022

Three people had been hospitalized with crash-related injuries, but not because of a gunshot wound, KCBS-TV Channel 2 reported. Anchondo had a slight injury to his wrist and was taken to a hospital but is now in custody.

Suspect takes truck in Whittier
  • Aftermath

Anchondo is being held at the Norwalk sheriff’s station without bail and on a parole hold. The extent of his injuries are unknown.
Authorities say mutiple vehicles and at least two police cruisers were hit.

Three people had been hospitalized with crash-related injuries.

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 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.

Cruz was released, Deputy Veronica Fantom, a Sheriff’s Department spokesperson, 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, a watch commander at the station.

Thoreson said he could not answer additional questions because of the investigation.