VPD arrest man for assault, stealing car, several hit-and-runs

Jose Luis Romero beat up another man to steal their car commit slew of other crimes including running from police

VISALIA – The videogame Grand Theft Auto doesn’t get much more real than a man beating up somebody, stealing their car, committing several hit-and-runs and then trying to escape the police on foot. That’s what police had to deal with on Sunday, Feb. 27.

According to the Visalia Police Department, at approximately 3:41 p.m. the Visalia Police Department received a report of a fight in progress in the area of Houston Avenue and north Mooney Boulevard. Upon arrival, officers located an adult male victim suffering from significant injuries. During the subsequent investigation officers obtained a possible description of the suspect’s vehicle.

At approximately 3:50 p.m. a hit-and-run traffic collision was reported at north Mooney Boulevard and Ferguson Avenue involving that same vehicle. Following that collision, the Visalia Police Department began receiving numerous calls for service involving the same suspect vehicle. Among those calls were two additional hit and run collisions with injuries, one at Court Street and Houston Avenue and the other at Dinuba Boulevard and Ferguson Avenue. 

The involved vehicle ultimately became disabled near Court Street and Race Avenue where the suspect fled on foot. The suspect was apprehended near Ash Street and NE 1st Avenue as he attempted to carjack an additional victim. The subsequent investigation revealed that during the initial incident the suspect attacked the victim, and ultimately left in his vehicle. That victim was transported to an area hospital where he is in critical condition. 

The suspect in this case has been identified as Jose Luis Romero, 41, of Earlimart. Romeo was ultimately transported and booked into the Tulare County adult pretrial facility for attempted murder, carjacking, attempted car jackings and multiple felony hit and run traffic collisions

Visalia Police Logs
Thursday, Feb. 24
At 10:40 a.m., Visalia Police Department narcotics detectives, special enforcement unit officers, and the TARGET task force served a search warrant at a residence in the 2000 block of North Ben Maddox Way. Upon arrival, Donnie Gomes, 38, fled on foot but was captured nearby. Gomes is a convicted felon and was found to be in possession of live ammunition. Rebecca Bardone, 65, was contacted in the residence and found to be in possession of methamphetamine, heroin and fentanyl with the intent to distribute each. Fred Esguerra, 41, was contacted in the front yard of the residence. Esguerra is also a convicted felon and was found to be in possession of a loaded firearm and stolen firearm. Makaela Leonardo, 26, provided a false identity to officers and once property identified, was found to be a wanted parolee at large. All suspects were arrested for various charges and booked into the Tulare County adult pretrial detention facility. 

At 7:51 p.m., Visalia police responded to the area of Johnson and Willow for a male suspect breaking car windows with a pipe. Gregorio Vidrio, 41, was contacted a block away with the pipe in his hands, after he had struck the seventh vehicle. He was taken into custody by officers. Further investigation showed that he had threatened custodial personnel and stole an item from her possession while holding the pipe. He was booked for numerous charges at the Tulare County pre-trial facility.

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