Police Respond to Unusual Crimes in Orange County

September 30, 2020 Updated: October 1, 2020

Law enforcement officers throughout Orange County, California, recently responded to a number of unusual crimes.

Man Charged With Threatening Priest With Wine Bottle

A man who allegedly threatened a priest after he was caught stealing wine from a church was charged with more than a dozen felonies after his recent arrest in the city of Orange.

Marco Antonio Ortizrabadan, 34, was charged with attacking a priest and police at the St. John Maron Maronite Catholic Church at 300 S. Flower St. on Sept. 23.

Police said Ortizrabadan was stealing wine from the church at around 4 p.m. when he was confronted by the priest.

“He threatened to hit the priest with the wine bottle, so the priest went inside the church and locked the doors,” Orange Police Department Sgt. Phil McMullin told The Epoch Times.

While the priest and other victims inside called the police, Ortizrabadan allegedly stole a red 5-gallon gas canister from the church’s maintenance area.

When police arrived, Ortizrabadan was holding the gas canister in one hand and a lighter in the other in a threatening manner.

The wine bottle was in his pocket. Ortizrabadan hoisted it, wielding it like a weapon.

Officers then released a police dog to subdue the suspect.

“When we released the dog and the dog bit him, he started throwing gasoline all over the dog and some of the officers that were standing in the area,” McMullin said.

An officer struck one of Ortizrabadan’s legs with a baton, while the dog was biting his other. Under this pressure, police were able to subdue the suspect and take him into custody.

Ortizrabadan was taken to the hospital with a possible broken leg and laceration. He was released that evening and booked into the county jail.

“Upon arresting him, we found that he had some methamphetamine and heroin in his possession. We also suspected him of being under the influence of drugs,” McMullin said.

Ortizrabadan was charged with six counts of assault with a deadly weapon, five counts each of assault with caustic chemicals and resisting arrest, and one count of burglary, all felonies.

He is also charged with two counts of possession of a controlled substance and single counts each of harming a police dog and being under the influence of a controlled substance, all misdemeanors. In addition, the suspect faces multiple sentencing enhancement allegations for the personal use of a deadly weapon.

Ortizrabadan pleaded not guilty at his court hearing in the jail courtroom in Santa Ana on Sept. 25. He was ordered to return to court Oct. 9 for a pretrial hearing at the North Justice Center in Fullerton.

Man Tries To Hijack OC Bus

An Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) bus was heading northbound on the I-5 freeway in Santa Ana, California, when a passenger allegedly attempted to hijack the vehicle.

The incident took place around 2 p.m. on Sept. 23. Police identified the suspect as Ronald Russell Evans, 56, of Laguna Woods.

Orange County Sheriff’s Department Sgt. Dennis Breckner told The Epoch Times that Evans breached a plastic chain barrier placed on the bus to ensure social distancing before approaching the driver.

“Evans said something about wanting to get off the bus, and then came up, approached the driver, kind of clenched his fist in front of the driver, and then grabbed the steering wheel,” Breckner said.

The driver had to push Evans away from the wheel to remain in control of the bus.

The driver then told Evans that he was going to call the police, and used his phone to dial 911. Evans grabbed the phone, but it remains unclear what he did with it, according to Breckner.

Eventually, the driver steered the bus off the freeway and pulled over near State College Boulevard and Anaheim Way, where Evans exited the bus.

The driver moved the bus down the street before parking and waiting for OCTA deputies to arrive. The deputies interviewed the driver, determined what the suspect looked like, and began a search.

Five or six passengers were riding the bus when the incident occurred. Nobody was harmed.

“All the passengers had chosen to leave before the deputies arrived,” Breckner said.

Evans was located, positively identified, and arrested. It is unclear if Evans was under the influence of any narcotics.

Evans was charged with one felony count each of attempted carjacking, false imprisonment, and attempted vehicle theft, as well as misdemeanor counts of battery of a bus driver and damage to a phone being used to notify law enforcement.

Evans was arraigned on Sept. 25 in the jail courtroom in Santa Ana. He pleaded not guilty and was ordered to return to court on Oct. 2 for a pretrial hearing.

Epoch Times Photo
A stolen Geek Squad truck is seen after crashing into a tree and a building in Santa Ana, Calif., on Sept. 24, 2020. (Courtesy of CHP–Santa Ana)
Epoch Times Photo
An unidentified suspect is placed into a police vehicle after being arrested for stealing a Geek Squad truck and crashing it into a tree in Santa Ana, Calif., on Sept. 24, 2020. (Courtesy of CHP–Santa Ana)

Geek Squad Truck Carjacked and Crashed in Santa Ana

A man who carjacked a Geek Squad truck used by Best Buy employees to service electronics customers was arrested in Santa Ana after crashing the stolen vehicle following a high-speed chase.

The incident began in Temecula on Sept. 24 at around 12:15 p.m. By the time it ended, multiple law enforcement agencies from throughout Orange County were involved.

Riverside County Sheriff’s Department Sgt. Lionel Murphy told The Epoch Times that the incident started when the unidentified suspect hopped into the driver’s seat of the truck while the victim was unloading it near Temecula Parkway and Margarita Road.

“As the victim approached the driver side door, the suspect drove away from the area at a high rate of speed causing the driver to fall to the ground,” Murphy said via email. “The driver was not injured.”

The suspect fled the area prior to the deputy’s arrival and headed toward Santa Ana, Murphy said.

The California Highway Patrol (CHP) located the stolen vehicle on the road, caught up with it, and took over the pursuit.

The driver eventually crashed into a tree and ran into a building near Tustin Avenue and Fourth Street, according to the CHP.

Officers from the Tustin and Santa Ana police departments helped the CHP capture the driver by surrounding the perimeter. The driver was not identified.