Carjacking suspects arrested after shooting at deputy

All-night chase ends after drone spots suspects

(Watsonville Police officer Brian Fulgoni and his K-9 Ranger (from left), Sgt. Mish Radich and officer Saul Valadez finish a search for three carjacking suspects just off Pioneer View Road Friday morning. Photo by Todd Guild/Register-Pajaronian)

WATSONVILLE — Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s deputies arrested three carjacking suspects Friday morning after they allegedly shot at the car’s owner, and then at a deputy who chased them.

The suspects have been identified as Julio Galindo, 21 and Jose Contreras Valencia, 19. Both were charged with attempted murder and booked into Santa Cruz County Jail in lieu of $750,000 bail. A 17-year-old male was also arrested and booked into Juvenile Hall. 

According to Hart, the victim of a carjacking saw his vehicle being driven in Watsonville at about 10:50 p.m. Thursday. The victim followed the suspects, and at least one fired a gun at him, Hart said.

The suspects also fired shots at a deputy who began chasing them, Hart said.

The suspects briefly eluded the deputy, and abandoned the stolen car on Travers Lane before fleeing.

Law enforcement officials from Watsonville, San Benito, Monterey and Alameda counties arrived and formed a perimeter around the area in which the suspects were thought to be hiding, Hart said.

Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office called its SWAT team and Watsonville Police Department’s Special Response Team to help find the suspects. In addition, Santa Cruz Police Department brought its Bearcat armored vehicle.

“These three guys had already shown us that they were willing to shoot at a community member and willing to shoot at one of our deputies,” Hart said. “That’s a dangerous group.”

At about 7 a.m. Friday, residents in the area of Pioneer and Varni roads began to call 911 to report that they saw the suspects.

As police tightened their perimeter, a resident of Pioneer View Road saw the suspects at about 8:45 a.m. and fired shots at them. None were hit, Hart said.

The suspects were arrested near Pioneer View Road after a camera drone flown by Alameda County Sheriff’s Department showed their whereabouts, Hart said.

“That helped guide our deputies in to capture them,” he said.

The incident is still under investigation. Investigators have found spent shell casings. A gun has not been found, Hart said.

“We believe the scene is contained,” he said. “We believe we have all the suspects in custody and it’s safe to go about your daily business.”

Pioneer View Road was closed during the search, and Monte Vista Christian School and Bradley Elementary School were locked down. Several residents also received a reverse 911 call.

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