Calif. man charged with 18 felonies in carjacking, 2-county police pursuit

The suspect stole two vehicles – carjacking one after entering a home – and crashed into LEOs’ vehicles


By Gregory Yee
Los Angeles Times

LOS ANGELES — The man who led authorities on a wild and destructive chase across Orange and Los Angeles counties last week was on parole for attempted carjacking and evading police, and will face 25 criminal charges in connection with the pursuit, according to authorities.

Johnny Anchondo, 33, of Moreno Valley is accused of leading multiple law enforcement agencies on a high-speed pursuit that wound from Fullerton, through Orange County and into eastern L.A. County before ending with a crash and shooting by L.A. County sheriff's deputies at a Hacienda Heights gas station.

Along the way, Anchondo allegedly stole two vehicles — carjacking one of them after entering a home in Whittier — and crashed into multiple motorists' and law enforcement officers' vehicles.

He has been charged with 18 felony and seven misdemeanor counts, the Orange County district attorney's office said Wednesday.

The chase began around 6:46 p.m. Nov. 9 when Fullerton police tried to pull over a driver for "vehicle violations," prosecutors said.

Anchondo was at the wheel and drove to a condominium complex, where he tried to flee on foot before stealing a parked van and repeatedly reversing into a Fullerton police car that had tried to block him from leaving, prosecutors said.

The ensuing chase reached speeds of nearly 100 mph before Anchondo abandoned the van in Whittier, prosecutors said. There, he ran into a home and allegedly stole keys to a pickup truck while threatening the owner with scissors.

The truck's owners tried to close a metal gate to prevent Anchondo from leaving, but he drove the vehicle through it, prosecutors said.

The chase continued for 40 minutes as Anchondo hit several motorists' vehicles and nearly crashed into several L.A. County sheriff's deputies' vehicles that were trying to block him into a cul-de-sac, prosecutors said.

"Anchondo is seen hitting two more civilian vehicles before being rammed several times by two [Sheriff's Department] vehicles," prosecutors said. "[He] then reverses the stolen truck into a sheriff's vehicle, nearly running over two … deputies."

The chase ended in the 1000 block of Hacienda Boulevard, according to the Sheriff's Department. Deputies said they had lost sight of the truck on a freeway, then found and pursued the suspect before he hit another car, collided with a police vehicle and drove into a gas station, where he hit a pump and tried to reverse.

Video broadcast by news stations showed a cloud of smoke and flames appearing to come from the truck's rear.

Deputies opened fire on the suspect but said no one was hit in the shooting. A brief standoff ensued until deputies approached the suspect with ballistic shields, broke the driver's side window and detained him while he had his hands up.

Anchondo was arrested and held at the Norwalk sheriff's station without bail and on a parole hold.

As of Wednesday, he remained in L.A. County Sheriff's Department custody on a parole violation pending his transfer to Orange County, said Kimberly Edds, a district attorney's office spokesperson.

Anchondo faces eight felony counts of assault with a deadly weapon on a peace officer, where the weapon is not a firearm; three felony counts of vandalism causing $400 or more in damage; two felony counts of theft with a prior felony conviction of taking a vehicle; and one felony count each of carjacking, first-degree burglary, assault with a deadly weapon where the weapon is not a firearm, evading a peace officer/reckless driving and resisting an executive officer, prosecutors said.

He has also been charged with three misdemeanor counts of hit-and-run with property damage, and one misdemeanor count each of evading a peace officer and driving against traffic, brandishing a weapon, possession of a controlled substance, and possession of controlled substance paraphernalia, prosecutors said.

"The victims in this case can rest assured that the Orange County district attorney's office will do everything in its power to hold this dangerous individual accountable for the dozens of crimes he committed across two different counties," said Dist. Atty. Todd Spitzer. "It is only by the grace of God that an innocent person wasn't seriously injured or killed by someone who was hellbent on doing whatever he could to try to escape, including stealing multiple vehicles and assaulting numerous law enforcement officers."

Anchondo faces a maximum sentence of 54 years in state prison if convicted on all counts, prosecutors said.

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