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Chase leaves trail of wreckage; carjack suspect tackled after weeklong rampage

Modified: Thursday, Oct 17th, 2013

Nathan Anderson of Watsonville has a reflective moment after police caught up with him following a dramatic pursuit Wednesday that left two police cars wrecked, a horse trailer overturned, a stolen pickup mangled and hundreds of motorists with rattled nerves. (Photos by Tarmo Hannula and Erik Chalhoub/Register-Pajaronian)

WATSONVILLE — After a week of carjacking, high speed chases, foot chases and an attempted break-in, police finally caught their man Wednesday following a dramatic pursuit through two counties.

Nathan Anderson, 29, was tackled by police in the Kmart parking lot on Freedom Boulevard about 10 a.m. moments after he slammed into a CHP patrol car and a parked SUV. He blew through dozens of stop signs and several red lights before a sheriff’s deputy caught up with him on Freedom Boulevard and performed a PIT maneuver, where he used the nose of his patrol car to shove the suspect’s truck sideways.

The ordeal began in Monterey County on Maher Road early Wednesday when Sheriff’s deputies and investigators got several tips from witnesses who spotted Anderson, a suspect they had seen in local news reports. Deputies first chased Anderson driving a stolen dump truck. Once the chase was on Anderson ditched the truck and bolted on foot. A while later law officials saw him driving a large Ford F-250 pickup with a 15-foot trailer attached that he allegedly swiped from a relative.

The chase came north on Hall Road and onto Salinas Road past Pajaro Middle School. Watsonville Police, Santa Cruz Sheriff’s deputies and the California Highway Patrol joined the chase as it spilled into Watsonville. A CHP helicopter also joined the chase. Anderson led the phalanx of patrol cars on a meandering, wild chase through downtown Watsonville and then onto Brewington Avenue, California Street, Hill Avenue, Tuttle Avenue, Stanford Street, Lincoln Street, East Lake Avenue and Wagner Avenue before zooming north on Freedom Boulevard. The chase swung right on Green Valley Road and left on Pioneer Road, at times reaching more than 60 mph.

Anderson, with the trailer still in tow, came back toward Watsonville on Amesti Road. His trail of destruction forced law officials to call ahead and lock down about six schools along the reckless route including Amesti Elementary School. Near the front of Amesti School CHP officer Jessie Mueller hurled a spike strip in front of Anderson’s speeding truck. As Anderson swerved to miss the strip, the move swung the trailer to the side where it bashed into Mueller’s parked patrol car. The trailer then careened into a parked SUV owned by Joel Gonzalez.

“I was in my house and I heard this big bang,” he said. “I couldn’t believe this was happening.”

With his truck free of the trailer, Anderson turned right on Green Valley Road and through a red light at Holohan Road. That’s when Watsonville Police Sgt. Eric Montalbo blew two of Anderson’s tires out with a spike strip. With both passenger-side tires ripped open, Anderson sped through the intersection of Freedom Boulevard and Green Valley and headed south on Freedom Boulevard.

“Thank god for our brave officers,” said Lori Nannel, who saw the trailer blast into the CHP car while she was watering her front lawn. “I saw the chase come down Amesti with a helicopter following overhead. Officer Mueller pulled the spike strip and had to hop over a fence to not get hit. The trailer shot up vertically in the air before hitting the Toyota SUV. He was just hauling down Amesti. Shame on him. I am appalled by that man’s behavior. Officer Mueller should get an award.”

A Monterey County Sheriff’s deputy caught up with the fleeing truck and performed the PIT maneuver. Anderson tried to recover but, instead, shot across the northbound lanes, over a sidewalk, curb and grassy strip, breaking his front axle. The truck ran out of life in the parking lot, which sent Anderson fleeing the scene on foot as dozens of shoppers looked on in shock.

Swarms of patrol cars from numerous agencies flooded the Kmart parking lot where Anderson tried to carjack another vehicle. Montalbo said Anderson grabbed at a man driving in the lot but was unable to dislodge him from the car. That’s when Montalbo Tased Anderson, but the Taser didn’t engage. Montalbo charged Anderson and tackled him.

“I just laid on top of him until other officers arrived,” Montalbo said.

No one was injured in the rampage that lasted 45 minutes.

Once he was handcuffed at the wrists and ankles Anderson casually conversed with officers before he was placed in a patrol car and taken to county jail.

Ed Yantis was about to enter Kmart when he "saw the whole thing."

"It's scary," he said. "Usually we don't get to see this stuff. It always happens at night."

The chain of events began Oct. 9 when Anderson allegedly shoved a woman to the ground and carjacked her Honda Civic on Highway 129 at Murphy Road. Over the next week he went onto engage various law agencies in numerous chases, all of which he escaped. Anderson would reportedly ditch one stolen car and would swipe another, then brazenly lure police into one chase after another. During one flight from police he jumped 30-feet to the ground from a house on Ryder Road in Corralitos, raced through the woods on foot and got away. He tried to burst into another house but failed.

Anyone with information about the case is asked to call the Santa Cruz Sheriff’s Office Investigation Division at 454-2311, or the anonymous tip line at 454-2847.

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