High-speed chase ends in arrest of brothers

Vehicle linked to drive-by shooting in Planada.

June 26, 2009 

N26Chase

SUN-STAR PHOTO BY MARCI STENBERG Adam Vargas, 19, was charged with resisting arrest and possession of stolen property, Thursday, June 25, 2009. California Highway Patrol Officer Brian Carr takes the taser prongs from Vargas' back after handcuffing him, and before escorting him to a patrol car at the corners of North Highwy 99 and Buhach Road. Varga was taken to the Merced County Jail.

MARCI STENBERG — Merced Sun-Star

Police arrested two brothers in Atwater on Thursday morning following a high-speed chase through the city. Authorities believe the pair may have been involved in a Wednesday drive-by shooting in Planada.

California Highway Patrol Officer Shane Kensey was driving on Bellevue Road, near Shaffer Road, when he spotted a maroon GMC Yukon, the same type of car used in the drive-by, the CHP said in a statement. Kensey confirmed with the car's license plate number that it had recently been reported stolen from the Beachwood area.

When Kensey attempted to stop the car, its driver sped away, the CHP said. A chase that topped 100 mph ensued.

CHP spokesman Luis Lara said the Yukon's driver ran at least one stop sign and drove the wrong way down First Street in an attempt to evade police.

The short chase ended just before 11 a.m. near Central Valley Disposal on Buhach Road when the driver rammed through a cyclone fence at the business.

The car's lone passenger got out and took off running, Lara said. The driver tried to continue on but the Yukon became stuck on an embankment. He then tried to escape on foot but was captured, Lara said.

The Yukon's passenger also was arrested soon after the chase ended. Lara said officers used a Taser gun to subdue him.

The CHP identified the driver as 23-year-old Alejandro Vargas, of Merced. Authorities identified the passenger as 19-year-old Adam Vargas, also of Merced.

The two were taken to Merced County Jail and will be charged with evading police, reckless driving and possession of a stolen car, Lara said.

Jeanie Knight, who owns Central Valley Disposal, said no employees were nearby when the Yukon came crashing through the fence.

"I lost some fence, but that was the only damage really," she said. She estimated the repairs will cost her a few thousand dollars.

Authorities are investigating whether the brothers stole the car and whether they were involved in the Wednesday drive-by.

The shooting took place around noon on the 9000 block of Haskell Avenue. Witnesses told police that a man in a maroon Yukon fired several shots at a house, then sped off toward Highway 140.

The shooting was the third drive-by in Planada in two days, sheriff's spokesman Tom MacKenzie said. None has resulted in injuries, he added.

Reporter Corinne Reilly can be reached at (209)385-2477 or creilly@mercedsun-star.com.