A man suspected of purposely running into people at a Modesto park where hundreds of homeless people live is wanted after walking away from a hospital before a scheduled surgery last week.
Israel Bazan Jr., 29, of Modesto, is suspected of hitting three people, at least two intentionally, at Beard Brook Park, and a fourth while leaving the park, on Jan. 29. They suffered mild to moderate injuries.
Bazan crashed into a pole and fence on South Morton Boulevard while leaving the park and was held down by witnesses until police arrived.
The city in September began allowing the homeless to camp at the park southeast of downtown.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Modesto Bee
Modesto Police Spokeswoman Sharon Bear said Bazan suffered a head injury but investigators do not know if it was a result of the crash or something else.
He was taken to a Modesto hospital then transferred to Community Regional Medical Center in Fresno to undergo surgery.
Bear said a detective went to the hospital Friday morning to interview Bazan before his surgery but learned he’d gone outside for a cigarette a few hours prior and never returned.
A warrant was issued for Bazan’s arrest for two counts of attempted murder.
At the time of the Beard Brook incident, Bazan was out of jail on his own recognizance for DUI and assault charges against a homeless woman in November.
Chantal Robinson said she and her husband Willie Gray live in their car and on Nov. 24 were in a disagreement at Eighth and I streets because she’d accidentally locked their keys in the car.
Bazan approached them and offered to help Robinson get into the car but Gray told him, “We didn’t need any help. He wanted to be Captain Save a Girl. His pride was hurt and he got embarrassed by everyone out there.”
So that’s when Gray said Bazan “cold-cocked” him in the ear. Robinson tried to break them up and Bazan hit her twice, knocking her to the ground, she said.
They went inside a nearby market and called police and Bazan got into a vehicle, driving toward them before leaving the area, according to police.
Bazan was charged with DUI with a blood alcohol contact of .167 percent and battery against Robinson.
Five days before the Beard Brook incident Bazan failed to appear in court and a warrant was issued for his arrest.
Gray said when he heard about what happened at the park he thought, “That could have been us.”