An apparent burglary suspect who ran inside an Albertsons in Santa Ana following a high-speed pursuit is still on the loose after the store was evacuated Thursday, officials said.
A burglary of an Audi occurred early Thursday in Mission Viejo before the Orange Police Department located the suspect from a LoJack stolen vehicle recovery signal, said Carrie Braun, spokeswoman for the Orange County Sheriff's Department.
The pursuit began around 2 p.m., Braun said.
When the pursuit ended at an Albertsons in Santa Ana later, the suspect ran into the store and has not been found by authorities since.
"It's entirely possible that he changed his appearance somehow after going inside the store and ... left the store with the rest of the people," Braun said. "That's absolutely, entirely possible."
When authorities were first pursuing the suspect on the road, the vehicles reached dangerously high speeds, according to Braun.
"That pursuit apparently went more than 100 mph on surface streets," she said.
For safety reasons, law enforcement officials on the ground stopped driving after him and let a helicopter start tracking him down, authorities said.
The chase ended on 17th Street in Santa Ana, where the suspect got out of the car and ran into a nearby Albertsons, authorities said.
A young man walking into the store with his friend, Jason Martinez, said he saw the pursuit suspect flee inside.
"At first, I was really confused. Like, it's just Albertsons — you don't need to run to get in," Martinez said. "And then they announced on the speaker to evacuate the store."
At that point, Martinez started to realize what may be happening.
"I kind of connected the pieces. I was like 'Oh, what if he's like armed?' So we both ran out," he said.
With the store evacuated, uniformed police could be seen inside the store at about 3 p.m., as video shows.
After a search, law enforcement officials found a backpack they believe belongs to the suspect.
The store's evacuation triggered a panic among customers and employees. Stacy Ponting, who has worked for the grocery store for 16 years, said nothing similar has ever happened.
"I was like panicking, shaking. I'm like 'hello,'" she said.
No further information has been released by authorities and the O.C. Sheriff's Department is the lead agency investigating the case.