FRESNO, Calif. — Authorities say three men have been arrested for attacking a California Highway Patrol vehicle and causing an estimated $12,000 in damage to it after the officer tried to stop a racer.
The officer, who has not been identified, was not injured.
The Fresno Bee reports (http://bit.ly/2cO2dcf) that police are searching for several other suspects, including the man responsible for smashing two of the vehicle’s windows in the Sept. 25 incident.
Federico Gonzalez, 20, Gabriel Deanda, 18, and Milton Rodriguez, 29 have been arrested. It was not immediately known if the men have attorneys.
The California Highway Patrol officer had been patrolling the area outside downtown Fresno when he came across about 40 people surrounding a Chevrolet Tahoe doing doughnuts, Fresno police Lt. Mindy Casto said. The officer went to approach the SUV, but the driver sped off.
The officer returned to his vehicle to follow the driver when the crowd began damaging the patrol car, Castro said.
A motive for the attacks on the police vehicle are unclear.
“This kind of unruly behavior, which borders on animal, has to be addressed in our society or we will have a lawless society,” Fresno police Chief Jerry Dyer said Friday. “And we need law and order in our society.”
Dyer continued: “We know what the environment is across the nation today with protests, riots and police officers being attacked and a lot of the criticism that law enforcement faces. I believe this is the symptom of that. And there appears to be a willingness on the part of people to attack law enforcement.”
Rodriguez, the racer, has a criminal history, including a prior conviction for reckless driving, the newspaper reported.
Gonzalez was arrested after his fingerprints were lifted from the CHP vehicle. He is a known Bulldog gang associate, Dyer told the newspaper.
Deanda, seen in a video kicking the patrol car, allegedly told investigators that he was upset at the CHP for towing his car. He is a known Bulldog gang member.
The incident comes at a time when tensions are high between law enforcement and communities across the country, from Charlotte in North Carolina, to Dallas and several cities in California.
In Fresno, the June shooting death of an unarmed 19-year-old man shot and killed by police also sparked demonstrations. Dylan Nobel’s family has said that officers used excessive force when they opened fire and killed Noble. Officers stopped him in his pickup truck soon after getting a report of a man walking along a street with a rifle or shotgun.
Dyer has said officers believed Noble, who is white, was about to shoot them, but they later learned he was unarmed.