By Adrian Danganan
University Village was placed on lockdown Thursday night after alleged armed suspects fled from a vehicle collision involving a stolen vehicle and into the college housing unit, police said.
A spokesperson for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said late Thursday night that four suspects were taken into custody. University Police lifted the lockdown shortly after 11 p.m.
A fifth suspect was still being pursued before the lockdown was lifted. Information on the status of the fifth suspect was not available late Thursday.
Witnesses say a six-vehicle collision occurred Thursday near the intersection of Temple Avenue and South Campus Drive right before 4:30 p.m. According to LASD deputies, the suspects in the collision fled the scene and headed into the housing unit populated by Cal Poly Pomona students.
Allen Ward, a resident of Chino Hills, states that he was the first person impacted in the crash.
“We were all stopped in traffic,” says Ward. “I guess what the cops said is that there was a stolen vehicle ” about four people in the car. They hit me first. Most of the impact was my car.”
According to Ward, the suspects were trying to cut between vehicles in traffic.
“[Their car] hit me first,” says Ward. “[The driver] was trying to cut the lane and get between us. [He] slammed into me and kept going. I looked over, and he just kept going.”
Shaidyn Garces concurred with Ward’s account.
“They were trying to go through traffic,” said Garces.
Madisyn Delgado, a witness involved in the accident, says that after the vehicle stopped, the suspects fled from the stolen vehicle. Delgado managed to snap a photo of what appears to be a woman fleeing from the scene.
“They ran out. Three men and one woman,” says Delgado. “One man had a shaved head and facial tattoos.”
According to LASD, officers pursued the suspects, who fled to University Village. A witness posted a video on social media showing police officials apprehending one suspect.
Christopher Caban, a senior mechanical engineering student, was leaving the Village when he said he came across the suspects.
“They were stumbling in, and they just plowed right past me into the village,” says Caban. “They just ran right through me. They just looked like they were in a hurry to get away.”
Caban was asked to notify police after another witness spotted a dropped weapon.
“I just thought it was suspicious, so I was kind of looking around,” says Caban. “Another student drove in and told me, ‘One of those guys dropped a gun. Call 911.’ “
A campus safety alert was issued shortly after, and a perimeter was set up around the housing unit. University officials ordered students in University Village to shelter in place. Residents far from the affected areas were evacuated to Parking Lot C while residents completely off the premises were asked to avoid the area entirely. Police officials also issued road closures on Temple Avenue and South Campus Drive.
University officials opened Ursa Major to displaced students following Thursday night’s “Pizza with the Presidents” event. Free food and drinks were provided.
Second-year communication student Heather Ludegna relocated to Ursa Major after her class and found the lockdown to be an inconvenience.
“I was gonna go home to visit family that I haven’t [seen] in a long time,” said Ludegna. “Today was the only day I could, and I couldn’t do it because of this. So I can’t go home now. It’s really frustrating, but you can’t really do anything about it.”
Ludegna questioned her safety following the lockdown announcement.
“Right here, I’m OK,” said Ludegna. “But I can’t go outside and feel safe. If I go back to the Village and sleep alone, I’m gonna be like, ‘I don’t know.’ “
Students taking shelter at University Village also found the lockdown ill timed. Eric Rensel, a fourth-year computer science student, was in disbelief when he heard the news.
“I was really surprised when my roommate told me,” said Rensel. “I was like, ‘Really? We’re on lockdown?’ I was supposed to be going to a club meeting, so I couldn’t go. I was just trapped here, so that was pretty inconvenient.”
Rensel, however, did accept it and made sure to maximize security.
“Considering what happened, I’m fine with it,” said Rensel. “It’s not a big deal. We just dead-bolted the door, and all the windows were covered up.”
Some students in University Village felt less pressure than others. Dwight Mittermeier, a third-year civil engineering student and Rensel’s roommate, made the most of his time.
“It was long and kind of relaxing,” said Mittermeier. “I got to do a lot of homework.”
Courtesy of Madisyn Delgado
Alleged suspect flees after collision
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