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Vandalism suspect rams patrol car during Santa Cruz pursuit

Arrested in San Lorenzo River Levee

Vandalism suspect rams patrol car during

SANTA CRUZ, Calif. - Reports of vandalism in Santa Cruz led to a police chase and the arrest of an erratic driver in the San Lorenzo River. 

According to Santa Cruz Police, officers responded to Taqueria Santa Cruz at 2215 Mission Street for a reported vandalism around 12:05 a.m. Thursday.

Witnesses told police, 43-year-old transient, Michael Richards had been disturbing customers in the area and had been asked to leave. Before leaving, Richards threw a metal chair through a glass door.

Employee, Gerardo Hernandez, tells KION they were shocked when the Richards threw a metal chair through the door of the restaurant, shattering it. "We look out and we see him grab a chair and he swung it at the door and just broke it," says Hernandez.

That's when employees chased Richards down Mission Street towards Safeway. One witness says as he was chased away he claimed to have a gun. 

Employees returned to the Taqueria to notify police of the incident.

Around 1:07 a.m. Thursday, officers came back to the 2200 block of Mission Street after calls that Richards had returned to the area. Officers spotted Richards inside a car near Pendegast Avenue and Rankin Street. 

"After an unsuccessful attempt to stop the suspect, Richards led officers on a vehicle pursuit. During the pursuit, Richards drove erratically, and at one point, stopped abruptly, accelerated his car in reverse, and rammed an officer who was driving a marked police car," said SCPD. 

Lt. Jose Garcia with Santa Cruz Police say when there is an incident with a suspect who they are told has a gun, there is a higher risk, "the threat level is higher, so our officers really want to take their time. To make certain that not only the officers responding safety is ensured, but also ensuring the safety of the public."

Richards continued to drive through San Lorenzo Park, ditched his car and ran into the San Lorenzo River Levee to get away where he successfully eluded arrest. 

Around 7:30 a.m. officers responded to the 800 block of Riverside Avenue on reports of a disturbance between two people. One of the people matched the description of Richards.

""Our officers again responded. Got into a foot chase with Mr. Richards at which point Mr. Richards fled into the San Lorenzo River," says Lt. Garcia. 

"After about an hour of negotiating with him in waste deep water, they were able to take him into custody safely," says Lt. Garcia.

Richards was eventually arrested at the San Lorenzo River Levee. He will be booked into the Santa Cruz County Jail for felony eluding, felony assault on a police officer, and resisting arrest. Police are also looking into vandalism or any other charges from the initial incident. Richards is being held on $100,000 bail.

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Reports of vandalism in Santa Cruz led to a police chase and the arrest of an erratic driver in the San Lorenzo River. 

According to Santa Cruz Police, officers responded to Taqueria Santa Cruz at 2215 Mission Street for a reported vandalism around 12:05 a.m. Thursday.

Witnesses told police, 43-year-old transient, Michael Richards had been disturbing customers in the area and had been asked to leave. Before leaving, Richards threw a metal chair through a glass door. As Richards was chased away he claimed to have a gun. 

Around 1:07 a.m. Thursday, officers came back to the 2200 block of Mission Street after calls that Richards had returned to the area. Officers spotted Richards inside a car near Pendegast Avenue and Rankin Street. 

"After an unsuccessful attempt to stop the suspect, Richards led officers on a vehicle pursuit. During the pursuit, Richards drove erratically, and at one point, stopped abruptly, accelerated his car in reverse, and rammed an officer who was driving a marked police car," said SCPD. 

Richards continued to drive through San Lorenzo Park, ditched his car and ran into the San Lorenzo River Levee to get away from police successfully. 

Around 7:30 a.m. officers responded to the 800 block of Riverside Avenue on reports of a disturbance between two people. When officers arrived, Richards took off running into the San Lorenzo River Levee. 

According to Santa Cruz Police, "Richards remained in waist deep water as officers attempted to negotiate his surrender for about an hour."

Richards was eventually arrested at the San Lorenzo River Levee. He will be booked into the Santa Cruz County Jail for felony eluding, felony assault on a police officer, and resisting arrest. 

 


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