Merced man arrested after high-speed chase

mnorth@mercedsunstar.comFebruary 23, 2013 

An armed man was arrested in south Merced on Saturday after allegedly leading officers on a high-speed chase.

Merced police officers responded to a domestic violence call involving a gun near 11th and T streets around noon, but when they located the suspect, he fled, said Lt. Tom Trindad of the Merced Police Department.

"He was definitely trying to evade the officers," he said.

The chase ended when the suspect, 37-year-old Brandon James, ran into his residence at 1810 Heritage Drive, said Trindad, who added that James was armed with a .44-caliber revolver.

There were other people in the house, but they were able to exit through the front door, he said.

After shutting himself in the house, officers reasoned with James and got him to cooperate and exit the residence, Trindad said.

James left the house from a two-story window using a ladder, Trindad said. Officers didn't want to lose sight of him since he was armed.

Though no injuries were reported, Trindad said officers were concerned for the public's safety since the high-speed chase went through residential neighborhoods and the suspect was armed.

Carlos Ferrer, who lives near the scene on Heritage Drive, said he saw James' vehicle pass by his house twice as he tried to evade police. Ferrer said the cars were traveling through the residential neighborhood at freeway speeds.

Ferrer said it took about 20 minutes for officers to coax James down the ladder.

"I wasn't exactly scared, but I was kind of paranoid that something heated might happen," Ferrer said. "I didn't know what this guy was going to do. He was sticking his head out the window. I was afraid he was going to run back in and grab a rifle and do something really stupid."

Police blocked off part of Heritage Drive, but dozens of people were outside watching the scene. Police officers, armed with tactical rifles, watched the perimeter around the house.

"I was really worried about the kids because the spectators brought their children out," Ferrer said.

The neighborhood is usually quiet and calm, he noted.

"Something like this never happens here," he said. "This is one of those places where the weekends are lazy and quiet."

James was arrested on suspicion of failure to yield during the pursuit and being a felon in possession of a firearm, Trindad said. He’s also facing additional charges, including assault with a firearm, threatening a police officer with a firearm, a felony charge of evading, making criminal threats, and a warrant for welfare fraud.

James is being held at the Merced County Jail in lieu of $311,500 bail.

Anyone with information about the incident is asked to call Sgt. Jay Struble at (209) 385-4725. The public can also send anonymous information via text message to "TIP411" with the phrase "ComVIP" as the keyword in the message.

Reporter Mike North can be reached at (209) 385-2453 or mnorth@mercedsunstar.com.

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