High-speed chase starts in SP after Ventura carjacking, three locals arrested

October 30, 2013
Santa Paula News

By Peggy Kelly 

Santa Paula Times 

Three local residents were arrested early Monday after a violent carjacking in Ventura and a police pursuit that started in Santa Paula and ended in Oxnard, according to officials.

The chase, said Santa Paula Police Sgt. Larry Johnson, ranged over 36 miles and lasted just about 36 minutes.

Ventura Police said the incident began Sunday, October 27 about 8:55 p.m. near Victoria Avenue and Thille Street, in front of the County Government Center, when a witness reported a carjacking.

Responding officers discovered that the unidentified victim was driving her pickup when she got into an argument with her passenger, Denise Morales, 32, of Santa Paula.

Morales then allegedly started to  hit the victim several times as the victim was driving. Once the victim pulled over and stopped the truck, Morales continued hitting the victim and eventually pulled her from the truck. When Morales got into the driver’s seat and tried to drive away, the victim, who was tangled in the seatbelt first tried to stop Morales and then free herself as she was dragged when Morales drove away. 

Morales was last seen heading south on Saratoga Avenue, according to the VPD.

The victim suffered moderate injuries and was taken to Ventura County Medical Center while Ventura Police Officers searched the area, but they were not able to find Morales or the victim’s truck.

Johnson said the SPPD was notified at about 9:15 p.m. by Ventura Police Dispatch that “A carjacking had occurred in their city and the suspect was Denise Morales,” last seen driving a Chevrolet Silverado, a 2003 model with “paper plates.... so it was new to somebody.”

SPPD Officers looked throughout the city for the vehicle but, “It did not show up so we abandoned our search and went about our business,” while still keeping an eye out for the truck.

“A few hours later at about 2:29 a.m.,” Monday morning SPPD Officer Joash Rothermel saw the vehicle in the area of Main Street and Steckel Drive. He followed it and initiated a traffic stop,” but Johnson said the vehicle failed to yield for the officer.

The pickup truck “fled through surface streets for awhile and then got on the westbound Highway 126,” at Peck Road.

“At that point I was catching up with them,” and Johnson advised dispatch the officers were in a pursuit.

The vehicle continued to travel at a high speed and, “Around the area of Kimball Road we picked up Ventura Police Officers in the pursuit,” and the chase continued on the Ventura Freeway to California Street where the vehicle exited and the pursuit was handed over to Ventura authorities.

Johnson said the vehicle was “chased through Ventura and ultimately entered the Highway 33 southbound then reentered the Ventura Freeway southbound and exited at Rose Avenue.”

The pursuit continued southbound and west on Gonzales Road and turned south on “C” Street.

Johnson said the chase-at this point was primarily the California Highway Patrol’s assisted by other police agencies and finally ended at an apartment complex on Canterbury Way in Oxnard. 

When the pursuit ended Johnson said, “All three suspects in the vehicle started to flee and then pretty well gave up,” to officers that included the CHP, a Ventura Police K-9 Unit and SPPD’s Rothermel, who was still in on the chase that had included the fleeing vehicle running red traffic lights and traveling at excessive speeds on surface streets. 

In all, said Johnson, the pursuit “covered 36 miles and lasted approximately 36 minutes.... “

Morales was arrested on suspicion of carjacking and assault with a deadly weapon.

“She was known to officers and a parolee at large as well, wanted on a parole violation,” that Johnson said 32-year-old Morales was also arrested for.

Jason Castillo, 27, was also arrested: “We believe he was the driver and he was arrested for suspicion of evading with gross disregard for public safety and resisting and obstructing a peace officer.... he is also known to officers and is on county probation.”

A third person, 25-year-old Philip Brooks, like the others a resident of Santa Paula who is known to officers and is related to Castillo, was also arrested for resisting and obstructing a peace officer.

Johnson said two SPPD units were involved in the pursuit initially and Rothermel stayed with the chase “to the end.... I had to get back to the station.”

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