The suspect in Monday’s vehicle and foot chase has been identified but has not been found. He is a parolee with an extensive criminal background.
By Mary O’KEEFE
California Highway Patrol has released the name and photo of the suspect wanted in a burglary at Orchard Hardware Supply (OSH) and subsequent vehicle and foot pursuit that cordoned off a neighborhood in Montrose on Monday.
Lang Patrick Martinez, 37, of Simi Valley is suspected of entering OSH shortly before noon on Monday and walking out with several power tools without attempting to pay.
Crescenta Valley Sheriff’s detectives, which is the lead agency concerning the burglary, have discovered that Martinez is also a suspect in a number of similar thefts in the San Fernando Valley.
“He [allegedly] enters stores like Target and Kohls and walks out with a cartload of items [like small electronics],” said Sgt. Ray Harley.
“Martinez has an extensive criminal background,” said CHP Officer Ming-Yang hsu.
“He was already a parolee at large even before the burglary on Monday,” added Harley.
Shortly after Martinez allegedly stole the items from OSH, he drove away from the hardware store when a CHP unit attempted to stop his vehicle on a speeding violation. The driver did not obey the command to stop and sped away, said Officer hsu.
Martinez, the alleged driver, rear-ended a vehicle on La Crescenta Avenue near the Foothill (210) Freeway as he was apparently attempting to flee from the CHP.
Melissa Wilson was stopped at a red light on La Crescenta Avenue just before the onramp to the Foothill (210) Freeway about 12:45 p.m. on Monday.
“I had just passed La Crescenta Elementary School and was heading down [south] La Crescenta Avenue. I had stopped at a red light (in the right lane) and I heard a terrible [sound of a vehicle] skidding. I looked in my rearview mirror and saw a [dark] green van that was going to hit the car behind me,” Wilson said.
Family members had recently been in a accident when a driver ran a red light and Wilson was very aware of the roadway and how serious accidents can be. She realized the driver of the van was not going to be able to stop in time so she went through the red light and pulled over to the curb. The van hit the vehicle that had been behind her.
“At first you are in shock. You are [assuming the driver] was in an accident, [that] he is going to stop but he just tore out of there,” she said.
Wilson got out of her vehicle and went over to the people who were in the car that was struck. She said it was driven by an elderly couple with a teenage boy in the back seat. The three said they were not hurt.
“A [police] car and an unmarked car went flying down [La Crescenta Avenue],” she said. “Then I realized it was a police chase.”
Wilson and the victims flagged down a Glendale police officer.
“He didn’t seem to know of the chase yet. He took some information,” she said.
At some point the Glendale officer may have been called to assist in the chase.
“He told us to wait and someone would be out to take our report. We saw police car after police car race down the street,” Wilson said.
They waited for about an hour and a half. The woman who had been a passenger in the car that was struck and the boy had been picked up by a family member and taken home. The driver and Wilson stayed but eventually left.
Martinez was allegedly driving the vehicle at the time of the accident and left the scene. He drove into a neighborhood in the 3700 block of Cloud Avenue where he pulled into a residential driveway. He again ignored the orders of a CHP officer to comply and fled on foot.
A nearby Cloud Avenue resident said she heard a loud noise, like a bang, then yelling.
“The CHP officer was yelling at this guy as he got out of the van,” she said.
Other neighbors reported hearing the officer and suspect yelling then saw the suspect run eastbound on Sycamore Avenue.
“I have friends on Sycamore [Avenue] that called and said they saw him [suspect] running through their yards,” said another neighbor.
The area has a strong Glendale Neighborhood Watch program that not only kept neighbors informed of the suspect’s route but helped with information for law enforcement as well.
CHP, with support from Glendale police, set up a perimeter and began a search of every home in the area. K-9 units were called out as well as two helicopter units from CHP. Crescenta Valley Sheriff detectives arrived to investigate the items found in the suspect’s mini van. Many items matched the description of stolen tools reported from OSH.
The exhaustive search for the suspect through Montrose streets on Monday afternoon was called off by law enforcement about 5:15 p.m.
As of press time on Wednesday law enforcement investigators were continuing their efforts in locating Martinez.
“We are doing what we can to track him down,” Harley said.
If anyone has information on this incident call 911 or the CHP office at (626) 296-8100.
California Highway Patrol is the lead law enforcement for incidents that occur on the streets in the unincorporated area of Los Angeles, La Crescenta. Glendale police area is the Cloud and Sycamore avenues where the suspect fled on foot. The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department/Crescenta Valley Station is the lead in the investigation of the OSH burglary.