The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) apprehended an auto-theft suspect approximately 100 yards from the AGC Road gate near FEAST garden — where the suspect crashed a stolen red Chevy Corvette — around 1:30 p.m. Oct. 21. The arrest occurred after a five-minute on-campus car chase, according to LAPD Sgt. Robert Alaniz. Jim Tranquada, director of communications and community relations, sent an email about the chase at 1:49 p.m., alerting the Occidental community and telling them to stay away from the area.
“We tried to stop him at the entrance of Alumni [Avenue] and Campus Road,” Alaniz said. “At first he stopped, and looked like he was going to get out, but then he got back in his car and took off and tried to zigzag his way out of the campus and crashed into the post.”
Campus Safety Patrol Sgt. Rodney Smith said he was on a routine round of vehicle patrol — approaching the campus entrance at the intersection of Alumni Avenue and Campus Road — when he saw LAPD making a traffic stop on the corner.
“It looked like the suspect was going to allow the police officers to approach his vehicle, but then he took off onto the campus. LAPD quickly got back into their cars,” Smith said.
According to Smith, the pursuit began at the front entrance and continued past Bell Field along Weller Road, turning onto South Bird Road and then AGC Road. The suspect followed AGC Road to upper campus before crashing into the gate at the intersection of Campus Road and AGC Road.
“The suspect, I guess, thought he could ram through the gate, but wasn’t successful at it,” Smith said.
Alaniz said that after ramming the gate, the 17-year male suspect left the car and ran 100 yards northeast on Campus Road before LAPD officers apprehended and arrested him for driving a stolen vehicle. According to Alaniz, the suspect did not struggle with the officers. Alaniz said the suspect likely lives in the area but is not connected to Occidental College due to his relatively young age.
Smith said he followed the police in pursuit at a distance in his Campus Safety vehicle.
“The only reason we would follow is to try our best to make sure that our students aren’t involved or hurt in the pursuit. And, thankfully, they weren’t,” Smith said.
According to Smith, Campus Safety Patrol Cpl. Barry Hardin assisted by positioning his Campus Safety vehicle at the intersection of North Bird and Gilman roads — between Newcomb Hall and Weingart Gallery — to ensure students were not coming up and the suspect was not coming down.
According to both Alaniz and Smith, the brief chase resulted in no injures and involved two LAPD units as well as a police helicopter. Smith said that two more LAPD units quickly joined the initial two in their pursuit.
After the officers apprehended the suspect, Alaniz said he was waiting for the LAPD traffic unit to arrive and make a traffic report before alerting the vehicle’s owner.
According to Smith, a tow truck arrived around 3 p.m. to take the stolen vehicle away.
While Tranquada’s campus-wide email did not state a cause for the chase, Alaniz said that the Beverly Hills Police Department was the first to report the stolen vehicle approximately seven days ago. According to Alaniz, LAPD officers are equipped with tracking devices to read stolen vehicles’ license plates. Once the LAPD system alerted officers to the stolen vehicle, LAPD located and attempted to apprehend the suspect near the entrance to campus.