A man who allegedly stole a credit card in a vehicle burglary in north Fresno drove away from police Thursday afternoon, resulting in a high-speed chase.
Police spokesman Lt. Joe Gomez said the chase began around 12:40 p.m. on the 4500 block of North Hazel Avenue in central Fresno, outside the residence of Rene Henry Garcia, 31.
Gomez said police attempted to stop Garcia, but he sped off. Garcia was driving extremely recklessly and officers ended the pursuit due to public safety. A police helicopter followed Garcia for about 20 minutes, but it lost sight of the Malibu when it had to refuel. During the chase, the suspect threw a loaded handgun out of his vehicle.
Garcia continued to drive across north Fresno and made it as far east as Fresno Yosemite International Airport, Gomez said.
Birney Elementary, Sierra Vista Elementary, Scandinavian Middle and McLane High School were briefly put on lockdown status when Garcia entered northeast Fresno, Gomez said.
Police went to Garcia’s home after receiving a report from a woman that her credit card was stolen in a vehicle burglary Thursday morning in north Fresno. Card activity showed purchases had been made at a Walmart and a massage parlor on the 1500 block of East Indianapolis Avenue, Gomez said, but when detectives arrived there, Garcia had already left.
Garcia was reportedly driving a newer-model silver Chevy Malibu with an Own A Car paper license plate, which was found parked in the driveway of an abandoned home at 2242 E. Richert Ave. in central Fresno. At 4 p.m., Fresno police were interviewing Garcia’s family outside the abandoned residence. They reportedly were trying to help him change a flat tire.