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Suspect in wild pursuit identified; families who had vehicles stolen still recovering

Wild pursuit leaves family picking up pieces after suspect steals work truck
Wild pursuit leaves family picking up pieces after suspect steals work truck 03:18

One day after a man led authorities on a dangerous pursuit through the Whittier and Hacienda Heights area, police have identified the 32-year-old suspect. 

The suspect who broke into a South Whittier family's home was identified by the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department as Johnny Anchondo, a man who has had his fair share of run-ins with law enforcement. 

Anchondo has been charged 18 times by Riverside County prosecutors and an additional three in Los Angeles County, CBSLA has learned. Those charges include drug possession, child endangerment, grand theft and parole violations, among others. 

Wednesday night's dangerous pursuit was his latest encounter with authorities. 

An extremely bizarre event that began in Orange County. 

After stealing a delivery van in Anaheim and eventually crashing it in the beginning of the pursuit, Anchondo barged into a family's home in Whittier and eventually stole their white pickup truck.

John Reynolds had his work van stolen by the suspect and is left now without a vehicle for work. 

"My refrigerated van is so heavy that he was able to push the police car out of his way," Reynolds said. "This is the spot where my car is parked and you can find the skid marks right here."

He and his wife own a food delivery service company and they told CBSLA Reporter Jasmine Viel that they rely heavily on that van. 

"That is basically our livelihood. We need that van to transport goods to convenient stores throughout Los Angeles and Orange Counties," she said.

A GoFundMe has been set up to help the couple purchase a new van for their business. 

Unfortunately, Anchondo was not done. He then broke into a Whittier home and would eventually steal another family's vehicle, a white pickup truck, which he later totaled in the end of the pursuit. 

Suspect responsible for dangerous pursuit Thursday has criminal past 02:25

The Benitez family came face-to-face with the suspect in their home. The suspect smashed through the residence's fence and nearly ran over the family's dogs. 

The family shared the horrifying experience with Viel.

"Once I seen someone open it I was like oh man someone got in," Andres Benitez said. "So my first reaction was, you know, defense so I opened this up and I grabbed the kitchen knife and told him, 'man you need to get the f*** out of here. If you don't get out of here I'm going to have to stab you.'"

The suspect then stole Benitez's new pickup truck, which he recently bought for his landscaping business. 

The pursuit eventually came to an end when Anchondo crashed into a gas pump at a gas station on Hacienda and Gale Avenue in Hacienda Heights. 

Meanwhile, Anchondo is now in custody and was charged for violating his parole and could face more serious charges for the reckless pursuit. 

CBSLA has reached out to the LA County Department of Corrections to see why Anchondo was previously released after he was sentenced to 16 months in a state prison. 

The department declined to comment due to the sheriff's department's ongoing investigation. 

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