Police use helicopter to thwart burglary suspect’s escape plans

Fresno County Sheriff’s deputies said that Efrain Martinez, 44,  burglarized a home in Del Rey, California, Tuesday. 

As deputies investigated the crime, they had a tip that Martinez was driving through the area. They tried to stop him but wouldn’t pull over. They started a pursuit until the sheriff’s helicopter, EAGLE One, arrived to follow Martinez, KSEE reported.

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The chase came to a brief stop when traffic had to wait for a passing train. Deputies shot a bean bag round from a shotgun to try to break the car’s window. Others used a PepperBall, shot inside Martinez’s car, to get him to stop. But the attempts failed, and he rammed his car into others to get into a side street. 

Eventually he made it to an orchard near the San Joaquin River, where he drove along a bluff, but the dirt was too soft to support the car, and it rolled into the river.

Martinez swam across the river to Scout Island, the location of a day camp that was hosting 100 elementary school-aged kids, KSEE reported.

Assuming that Martinez was armed after witnesses earlier said he had a gun, deputies inside the helicopter used its public address system to tell camp officials to go into lockdown, KSEE reported.

Martinez was then seen trying to take a canoe to paddle away, but the chopper pilot hovered over him and created a strong wind from the aircraft’s blades to prevent Martinez from commandeering the canoe.

He tried to escape among the trees and bushes along the shore, but a K-9 officer was released and subdued Martinez, who was hiding at the time. 

He was treated for dog bites and charged with felony counts of burglary, evading police, resisting arrest and harming a K-9 officer. He was taken to the Fresno County Jail on $75,000 bail, The Fresno Bee reported.

The canoe deputies said Martinez tried to take sank in the water, but the Boy Scouts and deputies recovered the boat, the Bee reported.

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