Andres Benitez, a local of Whittier, California, had just gotten home from work on a Wednesday night when an intruder sprinted into his kitchen.
According to his interview with KNBC-TV Channel 4, “I was simply talking to my mom and we were having a typical discussion when I saw the rear door open.”
Benitez saw the intruder and snatched a kitchen knife to defend his mother, but the man took the keys to his work truck from the table and fled out the door.
Benitez had no idea it at the time, but he had just been a part of one of the craziest police chases in a region notorious for them. In the course of an hour, a suspect led police on a chase through Los Angeles and Orange counties, during which he stole two cars, hit several others, and rammed into two police cars.
In order to replace their stolen stuff, Benitez and the owner of a second vehicle taken during the chase have donated almost $120,000 between them through GoFundMe accounts.
The pursuit culminated in gunfire at a gas station in Hacienda Heights, but no one was injured, per the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. Moreno Valley resident Johnny Anchondo, 32, was detained on suspicion of parole violation and other crimes. Without bond, he is being held at the Norwalk police station.
Video shows that Benitez, his mother, and their dogs chased the man outside, but he crashed into a fence and jumped into a white pickup truck, almost missing one of the little dogs that had raced underneath the car.
Seeing him start the truck “broke my heart,” Benitez told the news outlet.
Benitez, who runs a landscaping firm with his brother and father, created a GoFundMe to assist replace the equipment that was lost in the truck’s fire. Through Friday afternoon, more than $94,000 had been donated.
Benitez stated on the fundraising website, “We’re not asking for a new vehicle, just anything to purchase some tools and get back to work.”
Benitez updated the situation on Friday, saying that the vehicle and tools were insured but were still in the hands of the sheriff’s department. The family believes the sheriff’s department is holding them as evidence until the matter is resolved.
Benitez said in an Instagram video, “I just can’t thank you guys enough for the amount of support and love that you guys have been giving me.” This company provides for my family. This is what actually pays the mortgage. What keeps the lights on.
He went on to say that it “truly stung” to watch all their hard work over the course of three weeks — and all their equipment — destroyed. As truthfully as I can put it, I gave up hope entirely.
John Reynolds, of Anaheim, said he and his family were visiting Knott’s Berry Farm when the car chase started.
Reynolds, a food distributor, found out the hard way that his business van had been stolen when he received a call from the HOA manager at the complex where he lives. After that, he turned on the TV and followed the chase.
A little time after the pursuit started, Anchondo allegedly drove into an apartment complex, parked the black Honda Civic he had been driving, and leaped into Reynolds’ white Chevrolet van. This is all shown on video from KABC-TV Channel 7.
The police tried to surround the van from behind, but the man repeatedly backed into the police SUV before he finally escaped the building.
“I don’t know what I’ll do about work tomorrow.” Reynolds revealed to the media outlet. I really need it for my job. Let’s hope it’s still in good enough condition to be used.
Moreover, Reynolds has organized a GoFundMe campaign, which, as of Friday afternoon, has raised over $30,000.
With the help of this work van, Reynolds was able to provide for his family by delivering fresh produce and fruit cups to convenience stores in Los Angeles and Orange County. For the time being, I’ll be renting a U-Haul van; but, I will need to buy a replacement vehicle for my company at some point in the future, and any assistance would be greatly appreciated.
Before finding that his van had been stolen, Reynolds claimed to be “having the finest day ever” in a letter he wrote to his wife.
He continued, “The kids were never more behaved, the weather was just great, so it was a shock to come home to this nightmare.” “I really appreciate the support shown to my family.”