Costa Mesa police tackled a man on the Santa Ana Country Club golf course after authorities say he nearly ran over a police officer and crashed a car through a fence into the country club while fleeing the scene of a suspected drug deal in a grocery store parking lot on Friday night.
Police shot a second man involved in the incident with a Taser gun after he fled the parking lot on foot. Law enforcement officials now believe that the men were involved in an identity-theft scheme involving stolen bank account information, said Costa Mesa Police Lt. Clay Epperson.
Undercover police officers who were scouting out the Stater Bros. grocery store at the corner of Newport Boulevard and 22nd Street spotted what they thought was a drug handoff between the two men in the store parking lot around 8:30 p.m. on Friday.
After one man went inside the store, police tried to question the other, who was sitting in a car in the parking lot of the grocery store, Epperson said.
Police claim that the driver, Paul Hastings, 36, of San Juan Capistrano, sped away when police approached him.
“He knew the jig was up when he saw police,” Epperson said. “He was driving reckless, and the officers had to scramble for their lives to avoid being run over.”
Hastings fled northbound on Elden Avenue in the car at speeds so dangerous that police did not give chase, Epperson said.
“I would say he was going at an extremely reckless speed for surface streets,” Epperson said. “He was driving so out of control and recklessly, he couldn’t stop the car.”
Hastings’ ride ended about eight blocks from the grocery store, where the car crashed through a fence surrounding Santa Ana Country Club.
The car was traveling at such a high rate of speed, Hastings could not turn the car to avoid crashing into the golf course where Elden Avenue ends at Mesa Drive, Epperson said.
Hastings fled on foot through the country club grounds, where he ran the entire length of the golf course before police tackled him, Epperson said.
The second man, Rafael Aldaco, 29, of Whittier, ran when police tried to question him after he came out of the grocery store.
The officers Tasered Aldaco and found him in possession of credit cards with stolen personal information on them to access other people’s bank accounts, Epperson said.
Police arrested Aldaco on suspicion of receiving stolen property greater than $400, identity theft and obstructing a police officer.
Hastings was arrested on suspicion of evading a police officer, reckless driving, identity theft and assault with a deadly weapon for nearly running over a police officer when he tried to flee, Epperson said.
Hastings was being treated Saturday at Western Medical Center for a cut on his forehead he sustained when the car crashed through the fence.
BRIANNA BAILEY may be reached at (714) 966-4625 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.