A 44-year-old Los Angeles man remained jailed in Riverside Saturday after allegedly carjacking a vehicle in Corona and firing multiple shots at authorities during a dangerous pursuit that spanned three counties and ended with his arrest in Harbor City.
The Corona Police Department said Benjamin Gonzalez — who they said had a “violent criminal history” — was booked into the Robert Presley Detention Center in Riverside and was being held on $1 million bail.
The incident began shortly before 3 p.m. Friday, when Corona police were contacted by the Ontario Police Department to assist with locating a vehicle believed to have been involved in a hit-and run incident in Chino, according to the Corona PD. Officers located the suspect vehicle and attempted to conduct a traffic stop on Ontario Avenue in Corona. However, due to the suspect’s dangerous driving and traffic conditions, officers did not pursue the vehicle, authorities said.
With the assistance of helicopters from the Ontario and Riverside police departments, the suspect’s vehicle was located a short time later at a Shell gas station parking lot at 1550 E. Ontario Ave. in Corona. Police said the suspect fled the gas station after he stole a 37-year-old Corona resident’s pickup truck with a rifle in hand and fired one round during the confrontation.
The resident was not injured.
A pursuit ensued throughout Riverside County and Orange County and ultimately ended in the city of Harbor City in Los Angeles County, where Gonzalez crashed the pickup truck into a pole and was arrested by members of the Corona Police Department and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department after a foot chase, authorities said.
The suspect appeared to fire shots at law enforcement personnel several times during the vehicle chase. The vehicle drove on freeways and streets, sometimes on the wrong side. At one point he encountered a group of school children in a crosswalk in the Long Beach area — where the driver stopped to let the children cross safely before resuming his flight from authorities.
At around 3:30 p.m., the suspect allegedly fired the first of multiple bursts of gunshots at pursuing authorities on the Riverside (91) Freeway just before the Costa Mesa (55) Freeway. Reports of a second round of fire shot at authorities occurred around 3:50 p.m. on Bellflower Boulevard.
The suspect appeared to be armed with a high-caliber, semiautomatic weapon.
Gonzalez was injured by gunfire at some point during the pursuit and taken to a hospital with non-life-threatening injuries, Corona police said.
Further information on his alleged criminal history was not immediately available.
The Corona Police Department’s Critical Incident Team is investigating the incident, in collaboration with the other law enforcement agencies involved with the pursuit. Anyone with additional information about the incident was urged to call 951-817-5837.