SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - A Santa Barbara man is in jail after driving recklessly, ramming cars, intimidating other drivers, and leading police on a high speed chase through Santa Barbara, while his three-year-old son was in his truck.
The ordeal started at 10:15 a.m. on Saturday after police got a report of a hit-and-run on Milpas Street.
A short time later, a concerned woman driving near Cabrillo and Castillo Streets called 911 to report a white pickup truck driving erratically with a young child inside. Sergeant Mike McGrew said, "As the woman was following the truck, suddenly the truck turned around and started following the woman reporting the crime."
The 911 dispatcher directed her to drive toward officers standing by at Cottage Hospital. At this location, officers saw the truck and tried to stop it. Police say the driver put his head out of the window, looked at officers and drove away.
Police started to chase the truck which was heading towards State Street. The suspect drove down the wrong side of the street, into oncoming traffic. McGrew said, "He was driving southbound in northbound traffic almost hitting several police cars, including mine."
Police backed off the pursuit once it entered downtown State Street because of pedestrian traffic and safety. The suspect continued driving around other locations on the east side of State Street, near Laguna and Carrillo Streets.
At this point, police did a background check on the suspect and were able to identify him as 38-year-old Jose Jasso of Santa Barbara. Jasso also had a felony warrant out for his arrest and had run from officers about two weeks ago.
A short time later, the California Highway Patrol contacted officers about a traffic collision on the 101 near Coast Village Road. The same suspect apparently got behind a 50-year-old driver on Salinas Street and started chasing that driver aggressively. Jasso continued to follow the driver onto the freeway and intentionally rammed his truck into the car.
In the meantime, police were able to track Jasso's cell phone. McGrew said, "Police were able to ping the suspects cell phone and determined he was heading northbound back into Santa Barbara. We alerted outside agencies and the air unit to be ready."
After two hours after the incident began, officers found Jasso near Nopal and Montecito Streets standing by his truck holding his child in his arms. "The suspect again tried to use the child as a shield against the officers and the officers were able to get the child away from the suspect."
Jasso started fighting with officers who used their taser guns on him. He was taken into custody. Police say Jasso tested positive for methamphetamines.
Jasso is facing a long list of felony charges including, assault with a deadly weapon, evading police, and child endangerment. Police say there was a car seat in Jasso's truck, but it appears the child was never strapped in. McGrew said, "What this man did was put his three-year-old child at severe risk during this entire incident as well as several other people. It was a great job by officers who captured him and we're sure glad this guy is off the street."
The child was not hurt and his back at home with his mother.