A man at the wheel of an SUV led Fresno County sheriff’s deputies on about a 4-minute pursuit through central Fresno Wednesday at noon at speeds of up to 90 mph, spokesman Tony Botti said.
Deputies arrested Francisco Elenes, 35, near Channing Avenue and Pontiac Way after he abandoned the Chevrolet Tahoe in a front yard, tried to run and was quickly taken into custody. Botti said Elenes, who also goes by the name Francisco Javier Elena Lopez, would be booked on charges of felony evading and possession of methamphetamine, while officers investigate whether the Tahoe was stolen.
The pursuit took place on Clinton Avenue, West Avenue and Weber Avenue. Botti called the pursuit “very dangerous,” and said Elenes showed “no regard” for other drivers as he at times drove on the wrong side of the roadway. He said the pursuit started when a deputy who patrols the Fig Garden area tried to pull Elenes at Palm and Shields avenues. Deputies apparently believed Elena Lopez was driving a stolen car and were trying to find the registered owner to determine the exact status of the vehicle.
After a fatal sheriff’s pursuit in January, Botti said the department’s pursuit policy allows a deputy to initiate a “Code-3” pursuit, in which a deputy pursues a suspect vehicle at high speed, using lights and siren. The pursuit can be called off by a watch commander at any time.