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Officials release identity of carjacking suspect who crashed into water off West Cliff Drive after chase

carjacking suspect west cliff drive
KION

SANTA CRUZ, Calif. (KION)

UPDATE 7/1/2020 1 p.m. The Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Office has identified Portland resident John Kenyanjui, 56, as the suspect in a carjacking that led to the vehicle crashing into the water following a chase.

Kenyanjui is charged with carjacking, evading police, hit and run and possession of an unlawful weapon. Investigators said they are working to find out if he is connected to similar crimes in the Bay Area.

Anyone with information is asked to call detectives at 831-454-7635.

John Kenyanjui

PREVIOUS STORY: A vehicle is set to get pulled out of the water off West Cliff Drive after the Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Office said a carjacking suspect went off the road following a pursuit.

At around 3:30 Tuesday afternoon, the Sheriff's Office responded to the Davenport area after a report of a man shooting a gun in the air near Waddell and Scotts Creek.

"We were eating at the Roadhouse Restaurant and a couple cops came up and we heard the report being taken. Shortly after the incident happened, a lady said she was taken at gunpoint," said Bradley Bretzing, who was a witness in Davenport.

The man is suspected of carjacking someone in that area after the report and taking off in the vehicle. Deputies found the vehicle north of Scotts Creek and tried to stop it, but deputies said he continued driving south toward Santa Cruz.

"So they made sure we all stayed inside, stay boarded up. And we actually saw the suspect zooming down Highway 1 going southbound at like 100, 120 mph, followed by about 15 cop cars," said Bretzing.

Deputies said the chase got up to more than 100 miles per hour and he refused to pull over, so when the suspect started driving down Mission Street in Santa Cruz, deputies stopped chasing the suspect due to safety concerns.

Shortly after the chase ended, the Santa Cruz Police Department found the vehicle driving on West Cliff Drive, and the Sheriff's Office said the vehicle went off the road and into the water near Stockton Avenue.

"We heard this weird noise and saw the car run the stop light, and we're like oh that's weird. Then we saw the police officer coming after him, and we're like oh it's a police chase oh my gosh. And so we kind of stood back and we're continuing to watch, and then all of a sudden he just jumped the curb and drove right into the ocean," said Corinne Panchot, who lives in the neighborhood near the incident in Santa Cruz.

Deputies went to the scene and helped arrest the suspect, who Santa Cruz police say was in the vehicle when it went over the cliff. No injuries have been reported.

It is still unclear what motivated the suspect to do all this. For residents in the neighborhood, it was certainly a sight to see.

"It's a very calm, peaceful neighborhood, so it was quite the surprise to see a high speed police chase," said Panchot.

The sheriff's office is not releasing any new information Tuesday night. They likely will not be identifying the suspect until the morning.

Crime / Santa Cruz / Santa Cruz County / Top Stories

Avery Johnson

Avery Johnson is the Digital Content Director at KION News Channel 5/46.

Josh Kristianto

Josh Kristianto is a multi-media journalist at KION News Channel 5/46.

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