Crime

Teenagers arrested after high-speed chase through Merced County, police say

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Two teenagers were arrested Thursday night after leading police on a pursuit that spanned Merced County, according to Merced police.

Jesus Tapia, a 19-year-old Palo Alto man, was booked into Merced County Jail early Friday and was being held with bail set at $171,500 on suspicion of being a felon in possession of firearm and ammunition, carrying a concealed weapon while prohibited and misdemeanor resisting police.

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Nineteen-year-old Jesus Tapia from Palo Alto, shown in this booking photo, and 19-year-old Francisco Cruz from Patterson, were arrested Thursday night after illegally possessing guns and leading police on a pursuit that spanned Merced County, according to Merced police. Courtesy Merced County Sheriff's Office

Francisco Cruz, a 19-year-old Patterson man, was booked into Merced County Jail early Friday with bail set at $91,603 on suspicion of carrying a concealed weapon while prohibited, felony evading police, hit and run resulting in injury and misdemeanor resisting police.

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Nineteen-year-old Francisco Cruz from Patterson, shown in this booking photo, and 19-year-old Jesus Tapia from Palo Alto were arrested Thursday night after illegally possessing guns and leading police on a pursuit that spanned Merced County, according to Merced police. Courtesy Merced County Sheriff's Office

Officers with the Merced Police Department’s Gang Violence Suppression Unit developed information that a vehicle had firearms, according to a City of Merced news release.

The officers found the car shortly after 7 p.m. Thursday in the 100 block of East 12th Street in Merced, the release states. But when they approached the vehicle, the car sped away, leading officers on a pursuit.

GVSU and K9 officers followed the suspect onto Highway 99, according to the release. The driver, later identified by police as Cruz, was traveling at speeds of more than 120 mph, weaving in and out of traffic.

The pursuit was canceled when officers lost track of the car near Chowchilla, the release states. But the vehicle was spotted again a short time later in the 1700 block of Pacheco Boulevard in Los Banos.

Los Banos police, who were briefed on the vehicle, tried to stop the vehicle, but it fled. Officers pursued the car until it crashed into two other vehicles near the intersection of Nevada Avenue and West Pacheco Boulevard, according to a Los Banos police news release.

Three suspects fled from the vehicle on foot, the release states. Tapia, was quickly arrested by Los Banos police, the release states. Police established a permieter in the West Adams Street area.

With the help of Merced police K9 units and air support from California Highway Patrol, officers were able to find the two remaining suspects near a home on Shasta Lane, according to the release. Cruz was taken into custody. But the third suspect was able to escape.

Anyone with information is being asked by Merced Police to contact GVSU Sgt. Brian Rodriguez at 209-385-4710, at GVSU@cityofmerced.org or at the Merced Police Department’s tip line at 209-385-4725. Anonymous text message tips also can be sent by texting the word “Comvip” to the number “847411.”

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