Authorities identified a 33-year-old man who led police and deputies in Orange and L.A. counties on a reckless high-speed chase that ended in a crash and gunfire at a gas station in Hacienda Heights Wednesday night.
The suspect, Johnny Anchondo of Moreno Valley, has an extensive criminal background. He’s been arrested at least six times in L.A. County in the past two years, according to court records.
Wednesday’s pursuit started at around 4:45 p.m. when officers with the Fullerton Police Department attempted a stop in the area of Auto Center Drive and the 5 Freeway for traffic violations.
The 33-year-old, who at that time was driving a black Honda Civic, failed to yield to the police.
Not long after that, at an Anaheim apartment complex near West Coronet Avenue, Anchondo stole a white van that he used to ram police cruisers before getting away again.
The van belonged to John Reynolds, who uses it for his delivery business.
“There was John’s work van, throwing sparks all across the street, with the rear tires just completely destroyed, and it was wild. It was so surreal,” Reynolds wife told KTLA.
Deputies with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department took the pursuit over as Anchondo entered L.A. County, eventually bailed from the van and broke into a Whittier home where a family was inside.
Andres Benitez, who lives in the home with his mother and father, told KTLA that when Anchondo entered his house, he grabbed a kitchen knife to protect his loved ones.
“I told him ‘You got to get out the house, man, or I’m going to stab you,’” Benitez said.
Unfortunately, Anchondo was able to grab keys to the family’s white pickup truck, which he stole as they tried to stop him.
After taking off in the pickup, Anchondo reached speeds of 80 miles per hour on surface streets, crashed into other cars on the road, drove on the wrong side of the street, crossed over center dividers and blew through red lights.
In La Habra, he turned into a cul-de-sac with deputies behind him and appeared to be trapped. However, he whipped the truck around and weaved through several deputy cruisers and back onto surface streets.
Near the end of the pursuit in Hacienda Heights, sparks could be seen coming from beneath the truck when the 33-year-old crashed into several more cars before rolling to a stop in front of a gas station, where police rammed the vehicle.
He attempted to back up, but was surrounded by deputies, who fired shots.
Anchondo was taken from the scene in an ambulance and treated for a minor wrist injury. A sheriff’s spokesperson said that he was not hit with any bullets.
Currently, Anchondo is in custody at the Norwalk’s Sheriff’s Station and faces a litany of charges.
Two GoFundMe campaigns have been created, one for John Reynolds whose van was stolen and badly damaged and another for Andres Benitez’s family whose work truck was stolen and mangled along with the front gate of their home, for those who wish to donate.