Pursuit Suspect Hides in El Cajon Family's Backyard

For the second time in little more than a year, the Johnston family was awakened by police lights and search dogs

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    NEWSLETTERS

    An El Cajon homeowner heard the sirens and saw the police lights and thought "not again." NBC 7's Elena Gomez reports. (Published Wednesday, Aug 6, 2014)

    When a person running from police used an El Cajon man’s backyard to hide the homeowner immediately thought “not again.”

    Robert Johnston and his family live on Cuyamaca Street off Interstate 8 and Main Street.

    Early Wednesday they woke up to the sound of sirens in their neighborhood and police lights outside their home.

    California Highway Patrol officers had led a pursuit of a stolen car through La Mesa right to Johnston’s back yard.

    While Johnston went to see what was going on, he told his wife and daughter to hide in their room.

    He saw the pursuit suspect from his window.

    “I watched him lift the garbage can and get into shed,” Johnston said.

    CHP officers said the driver was speeding on I-8 heading eastbound near State Route 125 in La Mesa.

    The driver pulled over and pretended to stop then took off again on the 125 North exiting on Fletcher Parkway, officers said.

    The driver then started driving in the wrong direction and at one point almost hit patrol cars, CHP officers said.

    One the driver hid in a backyard shed, CHP officers say it turned into an hour-long standoff.

    The 35-year-old man was arrested, accused of DUI, felony evading and vehicle theft.

    The stolen car was an Infiniti SUV with new “Carmax” license plates.

    Officers with the driver accused of leading CHP officers on a high-speed pursuit early Wednesday.
    Photo credit: NBC 7

    It's actually the second time a driver in a stolen car used the family's yard as a hideout from officers. In May 2013, they had a similar incident when a woman stole a car and led law enforcement officers on a pursuit. She darted out of the car just outside the Johnston’s home and ran into their backyard.

    The family says they slept through the entire pursuit last time but this time they saw the whole thing play out.

    While Wednesday’s pursuit damaged a parked car belonging to a neighbor's family member, Johnston is glad it happened when it did.

    Just a couple weeks ago he was camping in the backyard with his daughter.