A man with an extensive criminal history of stealing cars and leading police on chases was arrested Saturday after a short pursuit through El Cajon that left four people injured.
Jerred Winkler, 32, is accused of ramming his vehicle into an ECPD patrol vehicle during a traffic stop near the intersection of Main Street and Jamacha Boulevard at about 6:35 p.m. on Saturday. He then led officers on a chase that resulted in several people injured, according to ECPD Lt. Randy Soulard.
El Cajon police said Winkler was originally sentenced to three years in prison for assault with a deadly weapon, auto theft, possession of a stolen vehicle, felony evading and DUI. Police said he also has several prior convictions.
He was scheduled to be released from state prison in November 2020 after accounting for time served but was released in August 2020 through an early release program meant to reduce coronavirus spread in prisons by releasing inmates with 180 days or less on their sentence, according to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR).
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The crash on Saturday occurred after he would have been released from prison, regardless of early release.
Since, he's been arrested at least two other times in different jurisdictions, El Cajon police said.
On Saturday, an officer stopped Winkler for a traffic violation and he initially pulled over. But, as the officer exited his patrol car, Winkler backed his vehicle into the officer's vehicle, Soulard said. He then pulled forward in an attempt to flee.
The officer was not injured and immediately began following Winkler, police said. During the about half-mile chase, Winkler was speeding, drove on the wrong side of the road and crashed into two vehicles stopped at a red light before fleeing again.
"Winkler’s vehicle sustained major damage, however he continued to flee from the pursuing officer. A supervisor then terminated the pursuit due to Winkler’s wanton disregard for the safety of the public," Soulard said.
Shortly after, El Cajon police said, Winkler crashed his car into several vehicles at another red light. At least four people were hurt and two were transported to the hospital.
But Winkler continued to evade officers on foot, Soulard said. He was finally found with the help of a police helicopter and was taken into custody.
Winkler was booked into San Diego County Jail on several charges, including felony hit-and-run and assault with a deadly weapon on an officer. He was also booked for two felony warrants for possession of a stolen vehicle and parole violation, police said.
"Due to his extensive criminal history, his flight risk, and his most recent crimes committed while on early Parole, a judge ordered that Winkler’s bail amount be increased when he was booked regarding this incident in El Cajon," Soulard said.
Editor's Note: This story originally identified Winkler as a parolee but he was out on county-supervised probation. His eligible release date was November 2020 not November 2021 and would have been released from prison at the time of Saturday's crash regardles of the CDCR's early release program.