REDLANDS — Richard Perez III of Redlands will be charged in the death of California Highway Patrol Officer Tom Coleman, a motorcycle patrolman who died after a two-minute chase last Friday. While in pursuit of the car driven by Perez, Coleman struck a big rig and died at the scene.
Meanwhile, the suspect’s vehicle crashed a short distance away and four suspects were taken into custody. Perez was booked into West Valley Detention Center without bail on suspicion on those three counts.
Coleman, who leaves behind a wife and two small children, was likely unaware that the vehicle was stolen initially. The theft had not previously been reported.
CHP spokesman Dan Hesser said that dispatchers were told by Coleman he had started chasing the vehicle on Mountain View Avenue, north of Interstate 10. In Redlands, the vehicle crashed into a curb in front of the Citrus Plaza shopping center on Lugonia Avenue.
“The (district attorney) has the final say on who is charged with what,” Hesser noted.
Hesser said Perez is the only one accused of murder because he was driving the car. “The arrests came after each suspect was questioned,” he said.
The three passengers included Timothy McElroy, 27, of Redlands, Joseph Robert Carlisle, 21, of Highland, and Bobby Joe Fogelquist, 25, of Highland. Among the charges each faces includes auto theft, being under the influence of a controlled substance and being in possession of a stolen vehicle.
Redlands police maintained street closures while the CHP conducted its investigation. “There were Citizen Volunteer Patrol members out there all day at the barricades,” said Redlands police spokesman Carl Baker.
Baker said the department’s forensic supervisor also assisted DA investigators on scene with photographs.