[UPDATED with Vincent Leon's Arrest:] Costa Mesa Cop Car Rammed Twice; Officer Fires Several Shots, But Driver Gets Away
See the end of this post for an update on the arrest of the suspected driver, Vincent Leon.
ORIGINAL POST, JULY 5, 2:23 P.M.: It was a wild morning at the New Harbor Inn in Costa Mesa, as a police patrol car was "violently" rammed twice by a black Nissan pickup, the officer inside responded with several shots fired at the truck, and a passenger got out and surrendered while the driver apparently got away on foot.
A manhunt for the driver is reportedly still on at this hour, according to the Costa Mesa Police Department.
The unidentified officer inside the patrol car had received an electronic vehicle tracking system signal just after 6:10 a.m. indicating a stolen 2001 black Nissan pickup was in the parking lot of New Harbor Inn, 2205 Harbor Blvd., Costa Mesa, according to a statement from Costa Mesa Police Lt. Tim Schennum.
Just after he pulled into the southwest corner of the lot, the cop could see two males inside the stolen ride. And when the driver saw the patrol car approaching, he immediately backed up the truck then accelerated forward to slam into the cop unit. Twice.
The officer, who feared for his safety, according to Schennum, fired his duty weapon several times at the Nissan, which was struck multiple times. That's when the passenger, who is not being identified because of his age, got out of the truck and surrendered. He was not injured.
The truck driver got out as well, but he took off on foot, as shown in these two surveillance photos released by Costa Mesa Police:
The suspect driver flees ...
Photos courtesy of Costa Mesa Police Department
... and hops a wall to freedom.
The driver was last seen running eastbound from the parking lot, onto Harbor Boulevard and an unknown destination. Costa Mesa cops on the ground, assisted by an Orange County Sheriff's Department bloodhound and Huntington Beach Police Department helicopter, mounted an intense search of the area this morning, but the suspect was not found.
He is described as male, Hispanic and 19 to 24 years old. He is wanted for auto theft and assault with a deadly weapon on a peace officer. It is unclear if he was injured in the police shooting, which is being investigated by the Orange County District Attorney's office, as is routine.
Anyone with further information about the crime or the fugitive is asked to contact Detective Jose Morales at 714.754.5356.
UPDATE, JULY 16, 8:41 A.M.: According to the Costa Mesa Police Department, the manhunt for the driver took them to the area of Pullman Street and Dyer Road in Santa Ana Friday afternoon.
It was there detectives spotted 27-year-old suspect Vincent Leon, who cops described as a parolee-at-large. Leon is alleged to have made the detectives before darting off on foot. He surrendered after a short chase, according to police.
Leon was booked on suspicion of attempted murder and outstanding warrants.
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