3 car chases in Merced end in arrests

rparsons@mercedsun-star.comFebruary 19, 2014 

Three car pursuits in Merced this week, including one where a suspected gang member crashed a stolen vehicle into a canal, ended with suspects behind bars.

Two chases were reported Tuesday and a third on Monday. No injuries were reported.

Merced County sheriff’s Deputy Kao Ly tried to stop a Chevrolet sport utility vehicle with three people inside around 11:23 p.m. Tuesday on Santa Fe Drive in the Beachwood area for a traffic violation, Deputy Delray Shelton said.

The driver, later identified by deputies as Joel Valencia-Reyes, was wanted on an unrelated drug warrant and refused to stop.

“They stopped somewhere in the area of Cabot (Avenue) and Drake Avenue, but then fled again,” Shelton said.

Two passengers jumped from the vehicle near Drake and Lobo avenues but were quickly captured, and the driver surrendered a short time later. Deputies pursued the vehicle through the Beachwood area for about 17 minutes, reaching speeds of 60 mph in residential neighborhoods, the Sheriff’s Department said.

A 17-year-old passenger in the vehicle had been reported missing earlier that day. He was booked at Merced County juvenile hall, Shelton said.

Deputies found a sawed-off shotgun and ammunition in the vehicle. The firearm’s identification number had been altered, authorities said.

Valencia-Reyes was booked at Merced County jail on the warrant and fresh allegations of evading peace officers, tampering with firearm identification, possession of a short-barreled rifle, reckless driving, contributing to the delinquency of a minor and driving on a suspended license. He was still in custody Wednesday on $169,000 bail, according to jail records.

Alberto Bueno-Morales, 19, was a passenger in the vehicle. He was arrested on suspicion of possession of a short-barreled rifle, tampering with a firearm identification and contributing to the delinquency of a minor, the Sheriff’s Department said.

Earlier Tuesday, Merced Police Department officers were led on a chase by a suspected drunken driver in a Jeep, Capt. Tom Trindad confirmed.

William Goldfoosh, 55, of Merced was booked at Merced County jail on suspicion of drunken driving, resisting peace officers and failing to yield, police said.

Officers tried to stop the Jeep around 7:30 p.m. on Santa Fe Drive on a possible DUI, police said.

The driver, later identified by police as Goldfoosh, led officers on a winding chase through Merced for nearly 10 minutes and reached speeds of about 60 mph. The driver pulled over and surrendered near Gettysburg and Branco avenues, authorities said.

On Monday, deputies arrested Chee M. Vang, 21, of Merced after a brief chase in an unreported stolen vehicle, the Sheriff’s Department reported.

Deputies described Vang as a known gang member.

The driver of a red 1993 Honda Civic refused to stop around 1 a.m. and turned off his headlights during the pursuit, Shelton said.

The chase ended when the driver crashed the vehicle into a canal near Franklin Road and Lobo Avenue, deputies said.

Staff writer Rob Parsons can be reached at rparsons@mercedsunstar.com or (209) 385-2482.

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