Police arrested three men and a teenage boy suspected of carjacking a Hilmar man at a Turlock movie theater, leading officers in a high-speed chase and trying to escape Tuesday evening into Modesto's airport neighborhood.
Alejandro Cardenas, 18, Lewis Villa, 18, Nich- olas Lujan, 18, and a 16-year-old boy, all from Modesto, were arrested on suspicion of car- jacking, conspiracy and participating in a crim- inal street gang, said Sgt. Craig Gundlach, a Modesto police spokesman.
Police did not release the teenager's name because he is a juvenile.
Gundlach said Lujan was the driver of the stolen maroon 1992 Acura Vigor. He also was charged with hit-and-run and evading a police officer.
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Police said witnesses saw one of the suspects throw a handgun as he was running away. The witnesses led officers to a .380-caliber semi- automatic handgun that was reported stolen in a Ceres burglary in July, Gundlach said.
Stolen from movie theater parking lot
The armed joyride started about 4 p.m. on Tuesday at Regal Turlock Stadium 14 at 2323 W. Main St. in Turlock, police said.
Gundlach said the 27-year-old Hilmar man was sitting in the parked Acura in the movie theater parking lot, when two men, one armed with a gun, approached him and ordered him out of his car.
The victim told police two other robbers were in a parked Cadillac. Gundlach said the victim got out of his car, and the two thieves drove away in the Acura with the Cadillac closely following behind.
Modesto police officer Lance Nicolai and reserve officer Anthony Blevins were on patrol at 5:45 p.m. when they spotted the stolen Acura being driven recklessly on Empire Avenue in Modesto's airport neighborhood.
When the officers tried to pull the car over, the suspects sped away south on Empire and ran the stop sign at Oregon Drive, police said.
Gundlach said the car was traveling so fast that it launched into the air at times. The Acura turned east onto Bonnie Brae Avenue, where it crashed into a parked car.
All four occupants ran from the crash. Nicolai chased and caught Cardenas.
Several Modesto police K-9 officers were leaving their training center on Tioga Drive, between Bonnie Brae Avenue and Connie Way, when the foot-chase started. They immediately began to assist in the search for the remaining three suspects.
Gundlach said K-9 officer Daniel Phillips found the 16-year-old boy near Connie Way and Empire Avenue and took him into custody.
Witnesses flagged-down other officers to report they saw two other suspects run into the basement of a vacant house in the 1700 block of Connie Way.
The officers went to the house and sent in a police dog to search in the basement. Gundlach said the dog quickly found Villa and Lujan hiding, but they surrendered to officers without further incident.
Bee staff writer Rosalio Ahumada can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2394.