A wanted man is in custody after leading Santa Maria Police on a car chase yesterday, and hiding in an apartment complex. The chase eventually led to a CHP helicopter and Santa Barbara County Sheriff K-9 units being called out after hours of searching for the man. It turns out it was by a stoke of luck that the man was found in the first place.
It was your regular, sunny Saturday afternoon. A Santa Maria Police officer was cruising down Cook Street, making the rounds, when all of a sudden something caught his eye. He spotted 35-year-old Cornelio Alvarez Jr. driving in his car. Alvarez had a felony warrant for his arrest for violating his parole.
"The officer was driving down the street and actually recognized Mr. Alvarez driving the vehicle, and that's what alerted him to make the traffic stop," says Sgt. Dan Cohen of the Santa Maria Police Department.
But Alvarez had no intention of stopping, leading police on a short pursuit near the 500 block of West Orange. He eventually stopped his car and took off. He ran down an alley and then broke into an apartment so he could hide.
Police had the place surrounded but were unable to find where Alvarez had gone. Sheriff K-9 units sniffed the area and a CHP helicopter circled overhead.
Police weren't sure what to expect from the runaway fugitive.
"We did have information that concerned us, that he could potentially have weapons," says Sgt. Cohen.
After 3 long hours, Alvarez was spotted.
"He was seen crawling away from the apartment complex," says Sgt. Cohen. "The officers gave chase, where ultimately at the end of the foot chase he was taken into custody."
Alvarez was found in possession of heroin and ammunition, to go along with the charges of burglary and evading a peace officer.
None of it would've happened if it weren't for the police officer's sharp eye.
"It was a job well done by the patrol officer. He's doing what we expect our officers to do, look for the people out there that we know have warrants and take appropriate action," says Sgt. Cohen.
Alvarez is booked in Santa Barbara County Jail on those 4 charges in this specific incident, in addition to the felony warrant for violating parole.