visalia – A carjacking that started in downtown Visalia ended with a crash and a K9 in Woodlake following a near collision with a deputy in pursuit.
Just before 10 p.m. on April 8, a female nurse parked her car in the 100 block of South Floral Street and was getting out of her car to go to work when a suspect, later identified as 25-year-old Jose Tapia, forcefully took her keys, stole the vehicle and then drove eastbound on Highway 198.
A description of the stolen vehicle was broadcast to surrounding agencies. An employee from AMR Ambulance spotted the vehicle on Highway 198 near Exeter and contacted the California Highway Patrol, which in turn contacted the Exeter and Farmersville police departments.
Tapia then turned north onto Highway 245 where the stolen car was spotted by a Woodlake patrol car near Cottage PO Road south of Woodlake city limits. Woodlake Police Chief Mike Marquez said the Woodlake Police officer, with assistance from the Tulare County Sheriff’s Office, CHP and other agencies, pursued the vehicle through downtown Woodlake, into the outskirts of town and back through town. During the pursuit, Tapia drove into oncoming traffic lanes directly at a Tulare County Sheriff’s deputy’s vehicle. The deputy had to pull off the road to avoid a collision. Tapia later lost control of the car and collided with a parked vehicle in the area of Millwood Avenue and Road 196. The impact damaged the vehicle to the point that Tapia fled on foot into an orange grove. He gave up a short time later after the Exeter Police Department sent the K9 into the orange grove. Tapia was later booked into the Tulare County Jail for carjacking, felony evading, assault with a deadly weapon on a police officer and hit and run.