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Sex offender arrested after police chase

Police arrested a registered sex offender Saturday afternoon after he allegedly ran from officers following a vehicle stop and violated his parole for having children with him, Lt. Andre Matthews of the Merced Police Department said.

Damian Wheaton, 32, was arrested by Officer Krista Stokes at 2:48 p.m. Saturday at an apartment complex in the 3000 block of Park Avenue after a brief struggle. He was booked into Merced County Jail on charges of failing to stop at a red signal light, resisting arrest, driving without a license, and violation of parole for being in the presence of a child. He remained jailed without bail because of a parole hold, according to a correctional official.

Matthews said Officer Ryan Rasmussen saw a car run a stoplight at the intersection of Olive Avenue and M Street. The driver of the car ignored the red and blue lights of the police car as it continued to travel on Olive Avenue. The driver then pulled into the parking lot of an Olive Avenue restaurant and stopped.

After the vehicle came to a stop, the driver ran. With police officers in close pursuit the man ran to hide in a nearby apartment complex. Stokes found the man as he pretended he was casually strolling through an apartment complex in the 3000 block of Park Avenue.

Stokes and Officer James Lodwick determined Wheaton is a registered sex offender who was recently released from prison. Wheaton's movements can be monitored by state parole agents via a Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) bracelet that is attached to his ankle.

In this case "good old-fashioned" police work resulted in the capture of a criminal and technology (GPS tracking) was there as a reliable backup, Matthews said.

Matthews said investigation determined Wheaton ran because there was a woman and her 4-year-old child in the vehicle he was driving. As a registered sex offender Wheaton is prohibited from being around children.

Associate Editor Doane Yawger can be reached at 209 385-2485 ordyawger@mercedsun-star.com.

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