Man charged in O.C. with four counts of carjacking, plus kidnapping, for a series of weekend incidents

OCRegister 5 days ago

SANTA ANA — A felon pleaded not guilty Tuesday to a four-hour carjacking spree that began in Santa Ana and ended in Orange, where he allegedly stole an SUV containing a developmentally disabled woman who was hurt while trying to get away from the suspect.

Esteban Sandoval Jr., 37, faces four counts of carjacking and one count of kidnapping, with sentencing enhancement allegations for a prior conviction for attempted robbery at an ATM last July, in which he was sentenced to a year in jail, according to court records.

He remains in custody without bail pending a July 18 pretrial hearing at the Central Justice Center.

Sandoval’s alleged crime spree on Saturday began in Santa Ana with an 8 a.m. carjacking at a Jack in the Box restaurant at 719 N. Bristol St., according to Santa Ana police Cpl. Anthony Bertagna. The victim was walking through the parking lot when the suspect punched him and took off with his car, Bertagna said.

The vehicle was found abandoned in Orange about 9:30 a.m., said Sgt. Phil McMullin of the Orange Police Department. At 10:20 a.m., police got a report of an assault during an apparent carjacking at a gas station at 1245 W. Chapman Ave., and less than a half-hour later, officers were flagged down at 2305 W. Chapman Ave. regarding another carjacking of a Nissan Titan, the sergeant said.

At noon, at Collins Avenue and Tustin Street, a man was seen running toward a 2001 Chevrolet Silverado and a responding officer realized the driver matched the description of the suspect in the carjackings, McMullin said.

The victim’s developmentally disabled adult daughter, who was in the Silverado as the thief was driving away, pushed the passenger door open and tumbled out, according to McMullin, who said she was not seriously injured.

The officer pulled the suspect over in the stolen vehicle and took him into custody, McMullin said.

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