HEMET: Two alleged car thiefs headed straight back to jail after vehicle and foot pursuits
HEMET – Hemet police officers pursued a stolen vehicle, before becoming involved in a foot pursuit in the early morning hours of Friday, Jan. 16. The pursuit yielded two arrests of Hemet residents. According to Hemet PD officials both suspects were either on parole or probation and were released from incarceration early.
The incident began just after 4:00 a.m., when a Hemet Police officer was traveling behind a white Honda Civic. The Honda was travelling Eastbound in the 3000 block of W. Acacia Ave.
While the officer followed the Honda, he conducted a routine records check of the vehicle’s license plate with Hemet PD Dispatch, who advised the vehicle’s license plate was previously reported as lost or stolen. The officer activated his overhead lights and siren, at which time the driver of the vehicle failed to yield and immediately fled from the officer at a high rate speed.
The pursuing officer advised there were two black male occupants inside the fleeing vehicle.
In a written statement about the incident, Hemet police officials explained the driver of the Honda, who was later identified as Darnell Travis, 20, of Hemet, fled North on Raymond St, running the stop sign at Florida Ave. He then abruptly turned West onto Florida Ave., accelerating to speeds in excess 60 MPH. Travis continued Westbound on Florida Ave. running a red light at Sanderson Ave.
According to a press release and witnesses, many of whom gathered in the parking lot following the end of the pursuit, Travis drove in an extremely dangerous and reckless manner during the pursuit, without regard for the safety of citizens or pursuing officers. A press release from Hemet PD, stated that at times Travis crossed over into on-coming traffic, ran stop signs and stop lights traffic, and drove through parking lots at excessively high speeds.
As Travis continued to attempt to elude officers, he eventually sped into the parking lot of Taco Bell, located at the intersection of Florida and Sanderson Avenues; continuing through the parking lot. Travis eventually came to a stop behind Mia’s restaurant, at which time both the he and the passenger exited the vehicle and fled on foot in different directions.
A second Hemet Police officer, who had responded to the area to assist the first officer, turned onto Sanderson Ave. just in time to witness the suspects running across the street while being pursued by the first officer. As they fled, the two suspects split up and went different directions.
With two suspects running in opposite directions, the sole, initiating officer focused his pursuit on Travis, who had been the driver of the vehicle. The officer caught him at a nearby 7-11, across the street from where the vehicle pursuit terminated. The officer detained Travis without further incident.
With the initiating officer focused his pursuit on the driver, the other arriving officer chased the passenger, capturing him near Steve’s Burgers, located halfway down the block. Officers identified the passenger as Steven Kirkwood, 18, of Hemet. Kirkwood was reportedly detained without incident.
According to Hemet PD officials, “Kirkwood was found to have tools that are commonly used to steal vehicles in his pocket and is on probation for vehicle theft. Travis (the driver of the stolen vehicle) is also on active parole for burglary”
After verifying the plates on the vehicle had been reported as stolen, officers made contact with the registered owner of the vehicle – a resident of Hemet. At that time, the owner realized that unbeknownst to him, someone had stolen his car at an unknown time earlier in the evening.
Officers transported Travis and Kirkwood to Hemet PD Station for further questioning. Both were later arrested and transported to the Southwest Detention Center.
According to jail inmate records, Travis, who was on parole related to previously committed crimes, was booked for evading police, evading police with reckless endangerment, possession of known stolen property/vehicle, and conspiracy. Additionally, officers requested and obtained a “No Bail Parole Hold” on Travis.
Kirkwood was booked on charges of possession of stolen property/vehicle, conspiracy, and violation of his parole. Kirkwood was being held in lieu of $5,000 bail.
Both suspects are expected to be arraigned in court on Wednesday, Jan. 21.
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