A man has been arrested after allegedly using a dog to help him carjack a Caltrans truck at an amusement center parking lot in Irvine, then leading police on a chase that ended at John Wayne Airport, police said Thursday.
The suspect, identified as 31-year-old Erik Baumle, approached the work truck while it was parked in the Boomer’s parking lot located at Harvard Avenue and Michelson Drive, the Irvine Police Department said in a news release.
Baumle opened the passenger-side door, startling the Caltrans worker who was sitting in the vehicle, according to police.
The worker wanted to know what Baumle was doing. He didn’t respond and instead tossed his dog onto the passenger seat, police said.
“Not knowing if the dog was vicious and fearing or his safety, the victim exited the truck,” the release stated.
Baumle allegedly got into the truck and took off, driving out of the parking lot.
Meanwhile, the victim went to an occupied Caltrans vehicle that was parked beside the stolen truck, and the workers briefly chased it while dialing 911, authorities said.
Responding officers located the stolen vehicle and initiated a pursuit, following it to John Wayne Airport.
Baumle tried to evade police by driving to a second-floor parking structure near the departing terminals, according to the release.
But the truck was too big to enter, and the top of the vehicle crashed into the structure, halting the truck from continuing forward.
“Baumle then intentionally reversed the truck into an IPD police vehicle, rendering it disabled,” the statement read.
Police said the driver eventually stopped and, five minutes later, got out of the truck and surrendered. Baumle was arrested on suspicion of carjacking, theft of a vehicle and assault with a deadly weapon.
A booking photo was not released.
The case is expected to be referred to the Orange County District Attorney’s Office.