Multiple cars damaged after police chase ends in Richmond

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A police pursuit that started in San Pablo ended in a crash involving at least eight vehicles in Richmond Wednesday morning, according to Richmond fire officials.

The incident began around 9:30 a.m. when officers attempted to stop a vehicle for a traffic violation, San Pablo police said. Police identified the suspect as 28-year-old Saul Espinoza of Richmond.

The suspect sped away in a champagne-colored Nissan toward Richmond, according to police. San Pablo officers stopped pursuing the car and a few minutes later learned that it had crashed a half-mile away.

Richmond Fire Battalion Chief Oscar Jones said the suspect vehicle crashed near the intersection of 29th Street and McBryde Avenue at 9:37 a.m.

"They used the jaws of life to rescue the suspect out of the car," said Richmond Police Lieutenant Felix Tan. He was wheeled away to an ambulance in obvious pain from a severely fractured leg. He was then immediately transported by helicopter to John Muir Medical Center in Walnut Creek for serious injuries, according to Jones.

San Pablo Police later claimed they never initiated the chase. "The lights actually, they weren't on," said witness Rudy Sorto, talking about the lights on the police cars as they approached. According to police, Espinoza was likely doing 80 miles per hour or more on 29th when he hit a BMW that was crossing at Andrade. "It was a huge boom... like a bomb or something," said witness Luciano Rodrigues. 

A woman inside the BMW that was struck was taken to a hospital for an evaluation after initially refusing medical assistance, Jones said. Her injuries were not serious. There were no other injuries associated with the crash, but Jones said many of the cars involved, all of which were parked but one, sustained major damage.

The neighborhood could breathe a collective sigh of relief since no innocent bystanders were seriously hurt from the incident. 

"I did try to see if it was safe for me to get close to the car, cause you know, we don't know if it's going to catch on fire," said Sorto who ran over from his home.

Sorto said he talked with Espinoza. "So, I asked him, you know everything's going to be ok, the cops are coming, so then as soon as I mentioned the cops, he just started freaking out. And he said, oh no, the cops. And he just tried to get out, but I kept telling him don't move."

Sorto captured video of firefighters working on the injured suspect and him being wheeled to the ambulance. "All you could see was blood on his face."

Police said they found a loaded gun and two ounces of methamphetamine inside the suspect's car, adding that Espinoza was on parole for fleeing from police with a gun and drugs back in 2012.