STEVINSON — Trying to stop suspects fleeing a Stevinson market with two 12-packs of Budweiser, a 28-year-old man survived a rooftop ride atop a Chevy Tahoe at speeds of up to 80 mph, authorities said.
While the good Samaritan didn’t personally get his men, he was able to safely get off the roof when the suspects were forced to slow down, and they were caught a short time later by a Merced County Sheriff’s Office deputy.
The incident was reported around 4 p.m. after one of the suspects walked into Lander Grocery and Liquor at 2799 Lander Ave. in Stevinson. The suspects grabbed the beer, got into the SUV and started to drive away, according to Deputy Tom MacKenzie, sheriff's spokesman.
However, Erick Borgman witnessed the theft and ran after the SUV and began pounding on the windows, telling the driver to stop. Five other people were also inside the SUV, MacKenzie said.
The Tahoe drove away — but Borgman jumped onto the running board and grabbed a railing on the roof of the vehicle as it headed south on Lander Avenue.
As Borgman was hanging onto the SUV, his father followed the suspects in his truck as they turned onto Highway 140. Mackenzie said the suspects opened a window and tried punching Borgman off the SUV.
Reaching estimated speeds of about 80 mph, Borgman climbed onto the SUV's roof and began pounding on it.
After Borgman's father pulled his vehicle in front of the suspect's Tahoe, the SUV slowed down, allowing Erick Borgman to jump off. Meanwhile, Deputy Tim Goncalves spotted the suspect's Tahoe at Westside Boulevard and Lincoln Avenue near Livingston.
The suspect driver passed through several stop signs, but finally yielded on Peach Street in Livingston. Several deputies arrived, taking the driver and five occupants of the SUV into custody.
Sometime during the ride, the suspects tossed the beer out the window while Borgman was on the roof, MacKenzie said.
Borgman wasn't hurt during the incident.
"The lady who owns that store is a good friend of ours," he said. "I just went after him."
The owner of the store, Parvinder Kaur, called Borgman a hero.
"He risked his own life," Kaur said. "He is a very good guy. The SUV could have swerved or threw him out. He endangered his life."
Mackenzie was appreciative of Borgman's efforts, but cautioned others about doing the same if faced with a similar situation.
“His heart was in the right place, and he did an outstanding job,” Mackenzie said. “At the same time, I’d never recommend anyone doing the same thing. Just getting a license plate and a description would be the best way to go.”
Suspects Ryan Valencia, 21, David Garza, 22, Daniel Martinez, 23, Ruben Garza, 20, Steven Villanueva, 26, and Thomas Campos, 18, were booked into the Merced County Jail on suspicion of burglary and conspiracy to commit a crime.
All the suspects are Merced residents and are being held in lieu of $20,000 bail.
Reporter Victor A. Patton can be reached at (209) 385-2431 or firstname.lastname@example.org.