Photo: Burning car
HERCULES — A man is behind bars after fleeing from a stolen jeep. Police arrested him for driving a stolen Jeep while carrying an unregistered semi-automatic handgun—loaded.
What began as a routine patrol morphed into a police chase on September 25. It started with an officer conducting a security check at a shopping center on San Pablo Avenue. Vehicle burglaries often occur in this lot.
Shortly before 1:30 p.m., a person flagged down the officer to report a car break-in. The officer saw a suspicious white Jeep with paper license plates nearby, and he decided to investigate the possible burglary suspect.
As the officer approached, a man sitting behind the wheel of the parked Jeep immediately drove off. The driver exited from the parking lot, near Sycamore and Willow avenues.
Ignoring the officer following close behind—with lights flashing and siren wailing—the driver of the Jeep refused to yield. The driver ran a stop sign while speeding towards an entrance to Highway 4.
To get around traffic on Highway 4, the Jeep swerved back and forth between motorists, driving at speeds up to 85 mph. However, the police chase ended quickly, because the Jeep took a curve too fast, while approaching the Sycamore Avenue Exit.
The driver, 27-year-old Paris Simmons of Richmond, lost control and the Jeep crashed into a field of dry grass, which caught fire. Simmons has a previous arrest for warrants. Firemen arrived next on the scene to extinguish what grew into a small brush fire.
Meanwhile, officers found a loaded semi-automatic handgun inside the Jeep. The Jeep was reported stolen from someone in Antioch on September 15.
Consequently, Simmons was arrested, after he received medical treatment for minor injuries resulting from the fiery crash. Authorities set bail at $120,000. His charges are vehicle theft, possession of an unregistered firearm, and evading an officer while disregarding safety.