SPPD officer acting on hunch sparks pursuit, school lockdown, and arrest

August 29, 2008
Santa Paula Police Department

Acting on a hunch, a Santa Paula Police Department officer stopped a car Monday.

By Peggy KellySanta Paula TimesActing on a hunch, a Santa Paula Police Department officer stopped a car Monday. The subject jumped a fence, prompting a lockdown of a local school until the man was arrested without further incident on campus.Sergeant Troyce Reynolds said the incident occurred on August 25 at about 1:45 p.m. when SPPD officer Frank Huerta attempted to make a traffic stop on a suspicious vehicle in the 1100 block of Santa Paula Street. “The driver stopped and exited the vehicle as the officer was stopping his unit behind it,” and took off on foot toward the fence to the rear of Barbara Webster Elementary School.The subject jumped the fence into the school grounds, and “Concerned for the students on the campus and the suspiciousness of the suspect’s actions, Officer Huerta gave chase” as he called for backup officers. Reynolds said Huerta also requested dispatch to notify the school of the situation and order a lockdown of the classrooms.“Other officers and detectives arrived on scene within moments and were able to setup a perimeter and contain the suspect within the school grounds.” Within minutes the suspect, Patrick Estrada Jr., 27, of Santa Paula, was taken into custody.
“He was found to have several outstanding misdemeanor warrants for his arrest,” and the school was released from the lockdown after Estrada was escorted off of school grounds. Reynolds said officers conducted a “complete walkthrough of the school, to assure that no weapons or narcotics were left on the grounds by the suspect,” before SPPD personnel left the campus.After further investigation, Estrada was also charged with numerous other crimes including possession of a loaded handgun, possession of a loaded handgun in a school zone, possession of a controlled substance for sale, transportation of a controlled substance, possession of a controlled substance while possessing a firearm, and under the influence of a controlled substance while possessing a firearm. Estrada was also found, said Reynolds, to have been driving on a suspended license.Estrada was later booked into Ventura County Jail on the variety of charges. The investigation is continuing.Juarez said Officer Huerta followed his instincts in making the initial contact. “The suspect was acting weird and suspicious,” and after the pursuit, when officers “went back to his car, he had drugs... and a loaded gun.”

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