Crime

Update: Two men arrested in police pursuit crash at Modesto taco truck, killing two

Family remembers victim of fatal crash at Modesto taco truck

Family remembers Pedro Gil of Vernalis who was one of two bystanders killed when a police chase ended with the suspect vehicle crashing at the Taco Vallarta food truck in Modesto, California.
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Family remembers Pedro Gil of Vernalis who was one of two bystanders killed when a police chase ended with the suspect vehicle crashing at the Taco Vallarta food truck in Modesto, California.

Two Bay Area men have been arrested for allegedly crashing a stolen vehicle into a downtown Modesto taco truck and killing two bystanders early Saturday morning.

Rodney Quiros, 24, of San Francisco and Antonio Gazo, 22, of Daly City were taken into custody shortly after attempting to flee the crash scene at the Tacos Vallarta taco truck on the corner of D and 14th streets, according to the Modesto Police Department. The men have been booked in the Stanislaus County Jail on multiple charges including homicide and attempted homicide.

The incident began around 1:45 a.m. at Lakewood and Briggsmore avenues, said Modesto Police Department spokeswoman Sharon Bear. Police spotted a stolen car at the intersection and the pursuit began, reaching speeds of 60 to 100 mph. The suspects in the car allegedly fired several shots toward pursuing officers.

The California Highway Patrol, Modesto Police and the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department all responded. The sheriff’s helicopter monitored the chase from above. The chase went through Empire on Yosemite Boulevard into downtown Modesto to 14th and D streets, where the stolen car jumped a curb and crashed into the seating area of the Taco Vallarta taco truck, Bear said.

Then the two suspects allegedly jumped out of the car and ran away. Deputies in the helicopter “kept eyes on them” as they ran away and the men were quickly apprehended, Bear said. Two firearms and ammunition were collected from the suspects’ vehicle.

Pursuit Suspects.jpg
The two suspects in the police pursuit crash are Rodney Quiros, 24, of San Francisco (left) and Antonio Gazo, 22, of Daly City (right).

“We could not not pursue them,” Bear said Saturday morning. “They were being so reckless they were definitely a danger to our community. Unfortunately, we were not able to protect everyone from their decisions.”

Two people at the taco truck, apparently customers, were killed in the crash. Modesto Police did not release the names of the victims. Family members identified one of the deceased as 31-year-old Pedro Gil of Vernalis. He leaves behind a wife and four children, ages 8 to 12 years old.

Gil’s family members gathered around the crash scene late Saturday afternoon for an impromptu vigil, placing candles and showing pictures of the man they said loved his family, fishing and the 49ers. Gil grew up in the Modesto and Turlock areas, attending Elliott Alternative Education Center. His wife, Lisa Gil, and their children were comforted by family and friends.

MR Pedro Gil 1.jpg
Pedro Gil, 31 of Vernalis, was one of two bystanders killed when a suspects in a stolen vehicle crashed into the Taco Vallarta taco truck stand during a police pursuit in Modesto, Calif. Picture clockwise from top left: Lisa and Pedro Gil and their children Pedro Jr., 12; Isabel, 8; Angelica, 9; and Arlene, 10. Marijke Rowland Courtesy Lisa Gil

The couple has been together for some 13 years, and would have celebrated their three-month wedding anniversary Saturday. They had planned to go camping at Don Pedro Reservoir for Father’s Day on Sunday.

“He loved all of the holidays. He loved bringing his family together, having parties and gatherings together,” said his sister, Sarah Sanchez of Ceres. “He was always here in Modesto because he had a lot of family.”

Sister-in-law Victoria Gonzales said Gil has gone to Tacos Vallarta to pick up Taki tortilla chips for his children. When the family retrieved his parked car from the crash site, they found three bags of chips inside.

A police chase of a stolen car in Modesto, California, ended in a crash that killed two people at the Taco Vallarta food truck on Saturday. Suspects shot at officers, and ran from the scene before being arrested.

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Marijke Rowland writes about new business, restaurant and retail developments. She has been with The Modesto Bee since 1997 covering a variety of topics including arts and entertainment. Her Business Beat column runs midweek and Sundays. And it’s pronounced Mar-eye-ke.
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