A felon suspected of stealing multiple vehicles and leading police on a high-speed chase from Riverside into the Perris Valley while armed and carrying a large amount of methamphetamine was being held Friday in lieu of $250,000 bail.
Ronny David Melton, 32, of Riverside was arrested Wednesday on suspicion of felony evading, reckless driving, possession of a stolen vehicle, possession of controlled substances for sale and being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition.
According to Riverside police Officer Ryan Railsback, a Riverside County sheriff’s helicopter crew was circling the Mission Grove neighborhood on the south end of the city when a LoJack signal buzzed, alerting the crew to the presence of a stolen tractor, about 1:20 p.m. Wednesday.
The crew able to isolate the signal to the 14400 block of Wood Road, and patrol units converged on the location a few minutes later, encountering a black Lexus occupied by a man and woman leaving a house over which the chopper was flying, Railsback said.
He said officers signaled the man to stop, but the suspect sped around the cruiser and headed south.
“The driver traveled at dangerous speeds, with no regard for others, so the pursuit was discontinued,” Railsback said. “The sheriff’s helicopter was then aided by our Riverside police helicopter, following the Lexus as it continued to flee and drive recklessly at speeds through the city and county areas.”
The Lexus abruptly stopped in the early stages of the chase, and a bag containing “a sawed-off shotgun, two loaded handguns, assorted ammunition and a large amount of suspected crystal methamphetamine” was dumped along a roadside, according to the police spokesman.
A patrol unit went to the spot and collected the evidence, Railsback said, and the pursuit continued, with the helicopters tracking the Lexus as it went into Nuevo.
“The driver briefly stopped to refuel … even speeding away with the gas nuzzle still attached to the car,” he said.
Deputies took over the chase, trying to compel the driver to stop, at which point he entered the Ramona Expressway, then turned onto Fifth Street and headed into an open field but got bogged down in mud, according to Railsback.
Melton and his female companion exited the Lexus and surrendered. The pursuit lasted about an hour.
A search of the vehicle revealed “more suspected meth, a large amount of money and items associated with illegal narcotics sales,” Railsback alleged.
Back at the suspect’s residence, the stolen tractor was seized, as well as 10 other allegedly stolen vehicles, according to the police spokesman.
The woman was questioned and released, and Melton was taken to jail.
He has a prior conviction for auto theft, according to court records.
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