With safe in hand, man tries to flee on foot after wild Redding pursuit, multiple crashes

REDDING — A probationer and suspected drug dealer who fled on foot after crashing into a car in a Redding Wal-Mart parking lot was apprehended this afternoon, Monday, Dec. 3. When the man fled from his wrecked car he was seen running while carrying a safe, which officers later learned was stuffed with cash and a “significant amount of heroin.”

Before the accident that sent the man fleeing on foot with a safe under his arm, the man allegedly tried to run down several officers and crashed into at least four cars while leading officials on a pursuit through several business parking lots. Patrol supervisors terminated the pursuit when it became too dangerous after the fleeing man drove along a sidewalk, sending pedestrians scattering in every direction.

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Today’s wild incident began about 1 p.m., when Shasta Interagency Task Force investigators attempted to contact Robert Lee Cronin-Mills, 27, of Shingletown, at a downtown motel, Redding Police Corporal W. Williams explained after Cronin-Mills’ arrest.

Robert Cronin-Mills was arrested after leading officers on a dangerous pursuit that was cancelled when it became too dangerous. RPD photo

Cronin-Mills is on felony probation for 2016 and 2017 drug sales convictions, according to Williams, but based on information and investigative leads developed by SITF investigators was suspected of continuing his sales of controlled substances.

Based on their information, SITF investigators attempted to conduct a probation search at the downtown Redding motel where Cronin-Mills was known to be staying.

As investigators were approaching the motel Cronin-Mills spotted them in the area and immediately fled in his car. “While fleeing, Cronin-Mills attempted to run several agents over with his vehicle,” said Williams.

Investigators updated SHASCOM that Cronin-Mills had fled and a patrol officer soon spotted him in the area of Hilltop Dr. near Browning Ave., about two-and-a-half miles away.

When the officer attempted to conduct a traffic stop, Cronin-Mills refused to yield to the official’s lights and siren and continued driving at slow-speed, leading the officer through several parking lots, as if looking for a place to flee.

As the officer continued following, Cronin-Mills suddenly decided to use a sidewalk as an escape route, at which time officers terminated the pursuit, “for everyone’s safety,” Williams explained. Despite officers discontinuing their pursuit, “Cronin-Mills continued to drive in a reckless manner and crashed into three cars at the corner of Browning Ave. and Canby Rd.

After that crash the fleeing man continued for another mile before racing into the parking lot of Walmart on Dana Dr., where he failed to stop for the red signal and plowed into another vehicle at the business’s entrance.

The impact disabled Cronin-Mills’ car and he fled on foot into the large parking lot, darting in between and crouching around parked vehicles in an attempt to hide. Witnesses later reported that while Cronin-Mills was running from the scene of the crash, he was seen carrying what officials later confirmed was a safe.

Officers, who had called off their chase several minutes earlier and were not pursuing or following the suspect vehicle when the final crash occurred, had remained in the area and arrived in the parking lot within moments of the collision.

The fleeing man was slowed down by a safe he was carrying that was filled with cash and heroin. RPD photo

Several citizens in the parking lot who had witnessed the crash and seen Cronin-Mills fleeing on foot helped guide incoming officers to the man’s location and the first two officers to arrive at the scene managed to subdue and detain him.

He was still in possession of the safe and other contraband when he was apprehended.

When officers later opened the safe they discovered it contained “thousands of dollars in U.S. currency and a large amount of heroin,” according to Williams.

Cronin-Mills was subsequently booked into Shasta County Jail in Redding for felony evading, assault with a deadly weapon on a peace officer, obstructing and resisting an officer, sales and transportation of controlled substances, and violation of probation.

A jail record search indicated Cronin-Mills remains in custody on $100,000 bail.

Williams did not specify if anyone was injured in the multiple collisions, but no officers were injured during the incident and Cronin-Mills’ apprehension.

Anyone with information related to this investigation is encouraged to contact Redding Police Corporal W. Williams at (530) 225-4200. Callers can refer to incident file number 18R085888 and can remain anonymous.

 

Contact the writer: trevor.rcns@gmail.com

Trevor Montgomery, 47, moved last year to the Intermountain area of 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 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 28 years and was a foster parent to more than 60 children over 13 years. He is now an adoptive parent and his “fluid family” includes 13 children and 15 – but soon to be 16 – grandchildren.

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