Photo: helicopter helps pursue Martinez (left)
DEL REY – Land, water, air – a recent burglary had it all.
As if robbing from people you know isn’t bad enough. The thief drove back near the area moments after breaking into a home, while police were on scene taking the report.
On August 7th Efrain Martinez broke into a home on South Wildwood Ave in Del Rey. The residents were home, making this a hot prowl burglary and more susceptible to possibly violent outcomes.
The residents were familiar with the 44-year old Parlier man and easily described him.
Deputies were at the home when they spotted the suspect driving nearby. Martinez refused to pull over and the pursuit began.
Deputies pulled back a bit once the Fresno County Sheriff’s helicopter EAGLE One began tailing him. Martinez made it to Downtown Fresno via Highway 99. Then he ended up on Fresno and P Street where a passing train had stopped traffic and slowed him down.
Maximizing the opportunity to end the chase, deputies created a blockade with their patrol cars, attempting to trap Martinez.
Deputies braved getting out of their car to break Martinez’s window using a bean bag round from a shotgun.
This allowed other deputies to shoot a PepperBall into Martinez’s car. Martinez reportedly pointed a gun at trailing deputies during the chase.
Martinez did not let the PepperBall stop him. He freed himself of the barricade by forcibly moving several civilian cars out of his way with his own car. He jumped back onto Highway 99, heading north.
Martinez’s strategy for evasion lead him to exit on Avenue 9 in Madera County, heading east. He used an orchard off of Road 39 as coverage but EAGLE One stayed on him. He made his way to the San Joaquin River bluff. Whether he meant to or not, the soft dirt of the bluff lead Martinez’s car directly the edge of the river.
Consequently,t was custody or swim time. Martinez decided to cool off from the heated chase and swim toward Scout Island. This is the setting of a day camp hosting 100 school age children. EAGLE One alerted the camp to go into lock down mode.
Martinez’s presence also led the nearby Fig Garden Gold Club to go into lockdown. The CHP took part in the action by deploying helicopter H40 as a second set of eyes in the sky.
Martinez’s next move was to attempt his great escape via canoe. He took a canoe from the camp into the water and attempted to get into it. Next EAGLE ONE dropped elevation, creating strong winds which prevented Martinez from making it into the canoe.
Going back to dry land, Martinez tried to hide from police in the bushes. Finally, K-9 Bady found Martinez and detained him until deputies arrived to arrest him.
Due to his dog bites, Martinez went by the hospital for a brief visit on his way to jail. He faces several charges including burglary, evading police, resisting arrested, and harming a K-9 officer. As a result, his bail is $75,000.