General Crime

Man Arrested Fleeing in Stolen Newspaper Delivery Van Pleads Not Guilty

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A San Francisco man pleaded not guilty today after he was arrested Monday for allegedly stealing a newspaper delivery van in San Francisco and leading law enforcement officials on a lengthy pursuit through the Peninsula and into the East Bay. San Francisco police Officer Gordon Shyy said San Francisco resident Andrew Rojas, 30, the alleged driver of the stolen vehicle, was arrested on suspicion of vehicle theft, seven counts of assault with a deadly weapon against officers, felony evading and conspiracy.

Rudolph “Rudy” Martinez, 53, the alleged passenger in the stolen vehicle, was initially booked on conspiracy, but has been referred for supervised release, according to San Francisco District Attorney’s Office spokesman Max Szabo. Rojas appeared in court today before Judge Ethan P. Schulman and entered a not guilty plea. Judge Schulman set Rojas’ bail at $575,000. The pursuit began shortly before 8:30 a.m. on Monday near Palou Avenue and Third Street in San Francisco’s Bayview District, police said. San Francisco police officers were attempting to locate a San Francisco Chronicle newspaper delivery van that had been reported stolen several hours prior in the Mission District. Officers had been able to track the van to the area using GPS.

An officer spotted the van and attempted to pull over the vehicle, but the driver failed to yield, according to San Francisco police. Officers pursued and the driver of the van accelerated. Police sped up to try to keep up with the driver, but the driver suddenly slammed on the van’s brakes, causing the patrol car to narrowly miss colliding with the rear of the van, according to police. The patrol car veered to the side of the stolen vehicle and the suspect driver swerved the van towards the patrol car, possibly in an attempt to smash the patrol car, police said. The suspect attempted to brake suddenly again and again tried to hit the patrol car, but was unsuccessful, police said. Shyy said officers pursued the van down the Peninsula via southbound U.S. Highway 101.

According to police, the suspect driver and his passenger were seen throwing items out the windows of the stolen vehicle at the patrol cars during the pursuit. The California Highway Patrol took over the pursuit as the van continued across the San Mateo-Hayward Bridge, police said. San Leandro police officers caught up with the van on San Leandro Boulevard near Washington Street at which point Rojas pulled the van over. Martinez got out of the vehicle with a bicycle and attempted to ride it away, but crashed into a garbage can, according to San Leandro police Lt. Jeff Tudor. San Leandro police officers then apprehended Martinez without further incident, Tudor said.

Rojas, however, continued to flee and drove south on East 14th Street. Officers pursued Rojas through downtown San Leandro and onto Estudillo Avenue, then onto Lake Chabot Road, according to Tudor. Tudor said that Rojas was seen swerving the van toward San Leandro police officers during the pursuit. Rojas drove into a dead end at Chabot Terrace, where he exited the van and allegedly fled into nearby yards on foot. Alameda County sheriff’s deputies and officers from the CHP and the East Bay Regional Park District helped San Leandro police officers set up a perimeter and catch Rojas, Tudor said. Rojas was located and arrested shortly before 11 a.m. in a creek in Lake Chabot Regional Park, according to Tudor.

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