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Potheads turn misdemeanor charge into a major felony

Potheads turn misdemeanor charge into a major felony

Two suspects lead VPD on short chase ending with vehicle collision, arrests


VISALIA – Two men turned a misdemeanor possession offense into a major felony after fleeing from officers and crashing their car into a van and a fence in the process. 

At 3:56 p.m. an officer with the Special Enforcement Unit stopped a vehicle near Fairview Park. As the officer made his approach to the vehicle, the passenger, Esteban Correia, 31, exited the vehicle to distract the officer. The driver, identified as Christian Velazquez, 20, then drove away in the vehicle. The officer returned to his patrol car and followed the suspect. 

The driver fled eastbound on Robin and as the car approached the intersection with Court, it failed to stop for the stop sign while negotiating a northbound turn onto Court. Velazquez’s car struck a mini-van as it was traveling northbound on Court. 

Velazquez then collided with a fence before abandoning the vehicle and fleeing on foot. The officer was able to catch Velazquez and take him into custody without further incident. Assisting officers located Correia and following the investigation, he was taken into custody as well. 

Officers located over a pound of marijuana in the vehicle and in possession of the two suspects. Passengers in the mini-van were transported to KDMC for minor injuries. The suspects were booked at the Tulare County Pretrial Facility on multiple charges.

Visalia Police Logs

Monday, Oct. 14

At 10:53 a.m. officers responded to Mooney Blvd and Avenue 272 for a report of a male in a vehicle with a firearm visible inside. Officers then learned this same vehicle and driver brandished a firearm at an unknown person near Walnut and Court. Officers located this vehicle at this location and attempted to stop it. The vehicle failed to stop and led officers on a short stop and led officers on a short pursuit which was then discontinued for safety reasons. The vehicle then continued before failing to negotiate a turn and struck a small tree at Encina and Walnut. The driver, Eric Massey, 36, was taken into custody without incident. There were no injuries. Two loaded firearms were located. Massey is currently on AB 109 probation. Massey was booked into the Tulare County Pre Trial Facility on firearm and pursuit charges.

Thursday Oct. 10

At approximately 4:02 p.m. officers with the Special Enforcement Unit conducted a stop on a vehicle at the O’Reilly’s Autoparts located at Mooney/Walnut. Upon contact, officers located Jose Zavala, 21, who was on active County Probation. A search of the vehicle yielded a loaded .44 Magnum revolver, ammunition, and marijuana for sales. Zavala was arrested and booked at the Tulare County Pretrial Facility on multiple charges.

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