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Suspects crash car after chase with police

Four people were arrested late Saturday following a car and foot chase, multiple crashes, an assault and at least 35 incidents of tagging in the 1700 block of Loughborough Drive. An officer received minor injuries during a scuffle with one of the suspects.

The incidents are believed to be gang-related.

Sgt. Tony Aponte of the Merced Police Department said the victim, not identified, was jumped by the foursome and hit in the head about 10:45 p.m. Saturday with a can of spray paint. He received medical attention but his injuries did not appear to be life-threatening. More graffiti incidents are expected to be processed in the next few days.

Officer Samuel Sannadan was kicked in face and required treatment for apparent minor injuries while trying to arrest Isadora Diaz, 20, of Merced, according to Sgt. Alan Ward.

Aponte said during their investigation, officers located eight other homes or properties that had been vandalized. The vandalism consisted of gang graffiti, and those arrested are gang-affiliated. The officers believe there are more victims of the vandalism and will attempt to contact them at a later time.

Aponte said Sannadan observed a Chevrolet four-door sedan matching the description of suspects tagging homes and apartments in the Loughborough area. As Sannadan attempted an enforcement stop, the sedan sped away, hit a parked car on Conestoga Drive and ultimately crashed into a streetlight while trying to make a turn at West North Bear Creek Drive and North Highway 59.

The four people in the car then ran, with three of them arrested soon after the accident and a brief foot chase. Diaz was caught about an hour later hiding behind some apartments in the area.

Omar Alvarez, 27, of Merced was arrested on charges of aggravated assault, eight counts of vandalism, resisting arrest, hit-and-run, drunken driving and participation in a criminal street gang. He remained Sunday night in Merced County Jail in lieu of $140,000 bail, according to a correctional official.

Kenneth Faust, 23, of Merced was arrested on charges of aggravated assault, eight counts of vandalism, resisting arrest, and participation in a criminal street gang. He remained jailed Sunday in lieu of $86,500 bail.

Diaz was arrested on charges of aggravated assault, eight counts of vandalism, resisting arrest, assault a peace officer, and participation in a criminal street gang. He remained jail Sunday in lieu of $147,000 bail.

A 17-year-old boy was arrested on charges of aggravated assault, eight counts of vandalism, resisting arrest, and participation in a criminal street gang. He was booked into Merced County Juvenile Hall, Aponte said.

Alvarez was arrested immediately by Sannadan, Field Training Officer Jeff Christensen and Officer John Pinnegar. Faust and the 17-year-old were located during a search of the area. When a resident told police someone was trying to get in her backyard, Diaz was found and arrested after he fought with the officers, Aponte said.

Associate Editor Doane Yawger can be reached at (209) 385-2485 or dyawger@mercedsun-star.com.

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