See the update at the end of this post on the district attorney's office charging Aleksandar Apostolovic with murder and several other serious felonies.
ORIGINAL POST, APRIL 4, 10:29 A.M.: A "career criminal" faces murder and assault with a deadly weapon charge after a police pursuit ended with a collision that killed a 12-year-old girl in Westminster Thursday evening.
Apostoloic Apostolovic, 26, of Santa Ana, was captured early today, about six hours after his modified black Chevy Suburban struck a Toyota van and another vehicle in the intersection of Trask Avenue and Hoover Street, Westminster Police said.
Apostoloic, who had previously been sought on firearms and drug offenses and fit the description of someone police were looking for, was spotted driving his Suburban by an officer who tried to pull him over around 6 p.m. Thursday, according to Westminster Police Sgt. Cameron Knauerhaze.
According to Knauerhaze's account carried by City News Service: The Suburban rammed into the front of the police car, injuring the officer who was briefly hospitalized, before taking off eastbound on Olive Street at high speeds. A witness later estimated the Suburban was going up to perhaps 90 mph when it entered the busy Trask and Hoover intersection and struck the Toyota van, which was carrying a woman and her two children, and another vehicle.
Vivian Nguyen, the 12-year-old in the Toyota, was pronounced dead at UCI Medical Center in Orange. Her mom and 13-year-old brother were injured
but their conditions have not yet been released. (Later today, police revealed the mother and son were hospitalized in critical but stable condition. Meanwhile, grief counselors were dispatched to Johnson Middle School, where Vivian Nguyen was a student, it was also announced.)
The Suburban wound up overturned, and the driver hopped over the front wall of a nearby residence and disappeared. Nearby searches door-to-door by officers on the ground, canine teams and a police helicopter overhead were called off a couple hours later with no suspect in custody.
Then, just before midnight, police received a 9-1-1 call about a strange man who had been in someone's house near Brooklawn Circuit and Chestnut Street, which is about three blocks west of the collision site, and had just run out of the back door.
With the help of an Anaheim police helicopter fitted with an infrared camera, Apostoloic was found hiding in the bushes of a nearby backyard around 12:15 this morning, Knauerhaze said.
Murder, assault with a deadly weapon and reckless evasion charges will be sought for Apostoloic, who was treated for minor scrapes and bruises, Knauerhaze said.
UPDATE, APRIL 7, 12:09 P.M.: Aleksandar Apostolovic--that's the spelling the Orange County District Attorney's office (OCDA) now gives for the defendant's last name--has now formally been charged with felony murder as well as aggravated assault on a peace officer, hit and run causing death or permanent injury, evading while driving recklessly causing seriously bodily injury and death, and first degree residential burglary, all felonies.
The 26-year-old also faces sentencing enhancements for a prior strike conviction for first degree burglary in 2008 and multiple prison priors, states the OCDA, which adds conviction on all counts could send the Santa Ana resident to state prison for 35 years to life.
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He is being held on $1 million bail in this case with an additional no-bail hold for a warrant case in Los Angeles County, notes the OCDA, which expects Apotolovic to be arraigned at 1:30 p.m. today in Westminster.
It was the outstanding warrant that caused police detectives to try to stop Apostolovic's Suburban in Westminster before the pursuit that included the attempted ramming of a marked police unit and a red signal and two stop signs being run, the OCDA states.
As for "murdering" 12-year-old Vivian Nguyen and seriously injuring her brother and mother, the OCDA relates, "The defendant is accused of acting with malice by driving with conscious disregard for the lives of others."