Fresno police are close to identifying and possibly arresting several people involved in vandalizing a California Highway Patrol SUV during a “sideshow” event involving racing and reckless driving Sunday, Chief Jerry Dyer said Monday afternoon.
The incident took place about 3:30 p.m. at Orange and North avenues in southwest Fresno after the officer spotted tire smoke and drove to the intersection, where he saw the driver of a Chevrolet Tahoe burning donuts. The officer got out of his SUV to make a traffic stop, but the crowd shouted for the Tahoe driver to speed away, which he did.
Dyer said that when the officer tried to pursue, about 20 people began to vandalize the CHP vehicle, smashing the driver’s-side window and another piece of glass and denting body paneling. The officer’s dash camera and a license plate reader collected information about the Tahoe and other vehicles as well as suspects, the chief said.
Fresno police detectives are scouring social media sites such as YouTube to collect more information, he added.
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“I’m confident that we are about to identify the Tahoe driver and as many others as we can so we can send a message that we will not tolerate this in our community,” Dyer said.
Sideshows have been a regular activity in the East Bay for years and often are accompanied by violence, including hit-and-run collisions, shootings and fights.
Dyer said he believes some of those involved in the Sunday incident are from the Bay Area, while others are local.
He warned that police are preparing for the next occasion when a sideshow takes place. Fresno police traffic and tactical officers will team with the CHP and sheriff’s deputies to swoop in on offenders, he said.
“We will be towing as many vehicles as we can,” he said. “We have dealt with these people in the past,” he said, referring to drivers who tried to disrupt traffic during a protest in July.
“We swooped in and towed and cited and made arrests,” he said. “Then they tried to start a sideshow on the freeway.” The CHP was able to shut that down and another attempt in Madera, he added.
“There is a lot of bragging (on social media) that they will be back,” Dyer said. “I look forward to their return.”