Authorities arrested a murder suspect after he led sheriff's deputies and police officers on a chase through west Modesto, three fences and an empty apartment complex playground Tuesday afternoon.
No one was injured, but some property damage occurred during the chase, said Stanislaus County sheriff's Sgt. Anthony Bejaran. The chase did not reach high speeds, but the fleeing vehicle made a lot of sharp turns through the residential neighborhood.
"He was just driving wild," said Bejaran, a member of the sheriff's Special Team Investigating Narcotics and Gangs.
Sheriff's officials arrested Francisco Guardado, 21, of Modesto for his suspected involvement in the shooting death of Hector Ocegueda Jr., 30, of French Camp.
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Sheriff's detectives are looking for three other suspects: Sebastian Loncaric, 30, Kenneth McWilliam, 34, and James Seth Brackett, 17, all of Modesto.
All three suspects are considered armed and dangerous. Sheriff's officials ask anyone who sees the suspects or knows where they are to call 911, said deputy Royjindar Singh, a sheriff's spokesman.
On Nov. 25, sheriff's deputies found Ocegueda dead in his car in an empty field in west Modesto, south of Hancock and John streets. He died from a gunshot wound to the upper torso, sheriff's officials said.
Tip on suspect's whereabouts
The Modesto Police Department Street Crimes Unit received information that Guardado might be in the area of Pelton and Sutter avenues. Members of the unit and the sheriff's team searched the west Modesto neighborhood Tuesday afternoon for Guardado.
About 3:15 p.m., a Modesto police officer saw him get into a blue Chevrolet Caprice Classic, said Sgt. Craig Gundlach, a Modesto police spokesman. The Chevrolet was reported stolen.
Gundlach said the officers tried to stop the car, but the driver sped away on several west Modesto streets, including Sutter and Pelton, and Nian, Victor and Clementa ways. Sheriff's officials joined the pursuit, Singh said.
Alfred Lammey, 63, witnessed the chase from his home on Victor Way. Lammey said he saw the fleeing Chevrolet hit the passenger side rear end of a Modesto police Street Crimes car.
"It looked like (police) were trying to cut him off, but that idiot kept going," he said of the fleeing driver.
Lammey said the police car crashed into his front yard and tore down a recently built wooden fence.
Gundlach said the officers used a legal driving maneuver to try to stop the suspect.
The chase continued as the Chevrolet went into the parking lot of a single-story apartment complex at Clementa and Victor ways. Bejaran said the Chevrolet crashed through one side of the fenced playground and broke through a gate at the other end before stopping near the apartment complex office and a soda machine. No one was in the playground.
Bejaran said Guardado ran from the vehicle south through the parking lot, but authorities surrounded him and he quickly surrendered.
No weapons were found in the vehicle.
Officials ask anyone who knows the whereabouts of Loncaric, McWilliam or Brackett, or who has information about the shooting to call Detective Marc Nuno at 525-7081 or CrimeStoppers at 521-4636. Callers to CrimeStoppers can leave an anonymous tip and may be eligible for a reward.
Bee staff writer Rosalio Ahumada can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2394.