.A Strange Low-Speed Chase Leads to Felony Arrest

Royal Oaks man charged with carjacking, hit and run, evading police, concealing a handgun and more

A 23-year-old man was arrested late Saturday night after he led police from multiple agencies on a bizarre low-speed chase around Watsonville and Pajaro.

The string of events started around 7:35pm when Watsonville Police got a call regarding a possible carjacking at gunpoint in the McDonald’s parking lot in the Overlook Center on Main Street. A short while later, police spotted the Honda Accord being driven by a man up and down Main Street, back to the Target store parking lot where he led police on a slow-speed chase around the lot before fleeing along Main Street, according to Sgt. Donny Thul.

For a short while, police lost track of the suspect, later identified as Enrique Enriquez, 23, of Royal Oaks, but he resurfaced and another slow speed chase ensued. Eventually, police found the Honda abandoned with the engine running next to Little Cesar’s Pizza on Freedom Boulevard around 8:50pm.

That’s when someone alerted police that their Toyota Highlander had just been carjacked, Thul said. Dispatchers at the 911 center issued a countywide alert for the beige SUV.

Moments later, Watsonville Police got behind the suspect vehicle in pursuit. The chase criss-crossed the city map, including Clifford Avenue, Pennsylvania Drive, Green Valley Road and on Main Street, over the county line and into Pajaro, mostly maintaining speeds between 20 and 40 mph.

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Enriquez made a U-turn on Salinas Road in Pajaro, drove back into Watsonville and made his way up to Pennsylvania and Main, with numerous patrol cars in pursuit, where he caused a major traffic crash involving at least three vehicles. Watsonville Fire officials reported they were dealing with three injuries.

But that didn’t stop him. Enriquez drove west on Green Valley Road, south on Main Street, right on Ohlone Parkway, onto Walker and then Rodriguez Street.

Just before 10pm, the Highlander—with the California Highway Patrol joining Watsonville Police in the chase—crossed over the Pajaro River into Pajaro again, where Monterey County Sheriff’s deputies were waiting. They conducted a precision immobilization technique (PIT) maneuver, tapping the rear section of the Highlander with their patrol car and causing the SUV to spin around and stop. That’s when police moved in at gunpoint in a high-risk car stop and took Enriquez into custody as dozens of onlookers crowded the roadway for a view of the drama.

Enriquez was booked into Santa Cruz County Jail without bail on multiple charges, including carjacking, felony hit and run, felony evading police, concealing a handgun and other charges.

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Tarmo Hannula
Tarmo Hannula has been the lead photographer with The Pajaronian newspaper in Watsonville since 1997. He also reports on a wide range of topics, including police, fire, environment, schools, the arts and events. A fifth generation Californian, Tarmo was born in the Mother Lode of the Sierra (Columbia) and has lived in Santa Cruz County since the late 1970s. He earned a BA from UC Santa Cruz and has traveled to 33 countries.
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