A Bakersfield woman was shaken up but uninjured Monday night after an armed carjacker allegedly used a handgun to commandeer her car, thereby triggering a police chase on highways and rural farm roads that exceeded speeds of 100 miles per hour.
Kern County Sheriff's Lt. Dean Marshall said the victim, whose name was not released, was reportedly accosted at about 5:45 p.m. in the 1600 block of Niles Street in east Bakersfield. Soon police received a report that a man armed with a handgun had forced the woman to give up her Lexus.
A California Highway Patrol unit spotted the Lexus sometime later -- and the chase was on. Ultimately a sheriff's department helicopter joined the pursuit, and sheriff's deputies in ground units took over the chase, which led them south on Weedpatch Highway, crisscrossing rural roads and even across private property.
At one point, the suspect tried to lose his pursuers by taking a turn through a farm orchard, Marshall said. But the air crew maintained line of sight throughout.
High-speed chases "are very dangerous," he said, "not only for law enforcement, but for the public who do not heed emergency lights."
Fortunately, the presence of the air unit allowed ground units to maintain safer speeds than the suspect, Marshall said.
Finally, after a pursuit that lasted more than 16 minutes, the driver of the Lexus slammed the car into an orange grove on Breckenridge Road, not far from Edison Road.
There, deputies arrested Jaime Gomez, 24, on suspicion of carjacking and other charges. No gun was found in the car, but Marshall said the suspect had plenty of chances to toss it during the chase.
The woman whose car was now a wreck, showed up at the scene. In tears, and clearly shaken up, she declined to comment on her ordeal.
No officers were injured during the incident. Gomez received minor injuries.