HEMET: Spike strips safely end dangerous, 30-minute pursuit of stolen truck

HEMET — A 52-year-old Moreno Valley resident in a stolen pickup truck was arrested after leading police on a dangerous, 30-minute pursuit, that wound its way throughout Hemet, Tuesday evening, May 8. The fleeing man was apprehended after officers used a set of spike strips to slow the stolen truck down and the driver eventually lost control, crashing onto the front lawn of a home. The chase ended less than two miles from where it originally began.

A man in a stolen pickup truck led officers on a dangerous, high speed pursuit that continued for 30 minutes. Eye News Media photo

After his arrest, Anthony Charles Warino was booked into Southwest Detention Center in Murrieta on suspicion of possession of a stolen vehicle, felony evading, and two unrelated outstanding arrest warrants for possession of a stolen vehicle, possession of narcotics, prior prisons enhancements.

The incident began about 9:15 p.m., when a City of Hemet police officer conducted a vehicle code violation enforcement stop in the area of San Jacinto Street and Oakland Avenue, Hemet Police Lieutenant Jeff Davis explained after Warino’s arrest.

Although Warino initially yielded to the officer, before making contact with the driver the officer learned the vehicle had been reported stolen just seven days earlier. While the officer was waiting for additional officers to arrive, Warino suddenly sped away from the traffic stop.

The officer immediately gave chase, activating his lights and siren and the lawman radioed emergency dispatchers and other officers he was in pursuit.

As Warino was fleeing the officer updated that the fleeing man was driving in an extremely reckless manner, without regard for the safety of other motorists or pursuing deputies. During the wild, high-speed chase he was seen driving on the wrong side of the roadway into oncoming traffic, fleeing with the stolen truck’s headlights turned off while racing through residential neighborhoods, and running all stop signs and red lights in an effort to elude officials.

As other officers joined the chase, the driver continued driving the red pickup into oncoming lanes of traffic and was reportedly taking sharp turns at such high speeds, the truck began throwing sparks and witnesses later reported the fleeing vehicle was nearly involved in several near collisions.

During the chase the fleeing man drove into oncoming traffic, ran stop signs and stop lights, and nearly crashed into several other vehicles. Eye News Media photo

Witnesses also reported that because of Warino’s dangerous and reckless driving maneuvers, personal belongings that filled the entire bed of the truck continuously tumbled out of the truck’s bed onto the roadway, further endangering the lives of other motorists and pursuing officers.

Official radio traffic during the pursuit indicated that at one point, a Hispanic woman with red hair was dropped off, before Warino continued on with the chase. It was not immediately known if officers located or detained the woman.

As the pursuit continued, Riverside Sheriff’s Aviation Unit in RSO’s helicopter “Star-9” joined the chase and assisted from above, providing constant updates and reporting potential hazards, traffic conditions, and dangers to ground officers below.

At one point during the ongoing pursuit an officer managed to successfully deploy a set of spike strips in front of the speeding truck, at which time the stolen truck’s tires slowly began to deflate.

About 30 minutes after the chase began, it appeared the driver lost control of the stolen truck, possibly due to his rapidly deflating front tires. As the driver lost control the vehicle barreled up onto a home’s front yard, nearly smashing into the residence, on the 600 block of N. Toledo Drive near Amigo Way.

After Warino lost control and came to a stop on the home’s front property, more than half a dozen marked and unmarked patrol vehicles and nearly a dozen patrol and special teams officers converged on the scene.

The stolen truck eventually crashed after officers successfully deployed spike strips and flattened the stolen truck’s tires. Eye News Media photo

Officials stacked up behind their patrol vehicles and other areas of cover with guns drawn and ordered Warino to exit the vehicle. Other officers armed with less-lethal options such as bean bag shotguns, pepperball rifles, and Tazers stood by at the ready.

Warino obeyed the officers’ commands and was taken into custody without further incident.

While crowds of area residents – curious at all the law enforcement activity on their street and the Sheriff’s helicopter circling overhead – came out of their homes to watch the scene unfold in front of them.

After Warino was in custody, officers searched the interior and bed of the truck, sifting through backpacks, suitcases, bags of trash and clothing, bicycles and other various personal items that filled the entire vehicle. According to witnesses at the scene, officers found drug paraphernalia and other items of evidence inside the stolen truck.

Although Warino was initially held on $535,000 bail according to Davis, online jail records indicated Warino remains in custody and is currently being held on $420,000 bail. He was scheduled to be arraigned at an unspecified court, May 11.

There were no reported injuries related to the pursuit or Warino’s apprehension and arrest.

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Contact the writer: trevor.rcns@gmail.com

Trevor Montgomery, 46, recently moved to Shasta County from Riverside County and runs Riverside County News Source and Shasta County News Source. Additionally, he writes for several other news organizations, including Riverside County based newspapers, Valley News, The Valley Chronicle and Anza Valley Outlook, as well as Bonsall/Fallbrook Village News in San Diego County and The Mountain Echo in Shasta County.

Trevor spent 10 years in the U.S. Army as an Orthopedic Specialist before joining the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department in 1998. He was medically retired after losing his leg, breaking his back and suffering both spinal cord and brain injuries in an off-duty accident. (Click here to see segment of Discovery Channel documentary of Trevor’s accident.)

During his time with the sheriff’s department, Trevor worked at several different stations, including Robert Presley Detention Center, Southwest Station in Temecula, Hemet/Valle Vista Station, Ben Clark Public Safety Training Center and Lake Elsinore Station, along with other locations.

Trevor’s assignments included Corrections, Patrol, DUI Enforcement, Boat and Personal Water-Craft based Lake Patrol, Off-Road Vehicle Enforcement, Problem Oriented Policing Team and Personnel/Background Investigations. He finished his career while working as a Sex Crimes and Child Abuse Investigator and was a court-designated expert in child abuse and child sex-related crimes.

Trevor has been married for more than 27 years and was a foster parent to more than 60 children over 13 years. He is now an adoptive parent and has 13 children and 14 – soon to be 15 – grandchildren.

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