UPDATED: HEMET: Officer’s call for help during fight brings multiple agencies, 2 arrested

UPDATED: Sunday, June 18 1 p.m.

HEMET — At least two adults were arrested after a reckless driving and assault incident reportedly turned into a fight between 15-20 juveniles and adults. The scene quickly spiraled into a chaotic, ten-minute-long melee, after the first officer’s arrival. One person, an “older man” using a mobility scooter was left battered and bloody after he was assaulted when he tried to confront the reckless driver.

A concerned citizen was left battered and bloodied after he tried to stop a reckless driver and was attacked. Robert Carter photo
A concerned citizen was left battered and bloodied after he tried to stop a reckless driver and was attacked. Robert Carter photo

While trying to investigate the incident, a small – but quickly growing – mob of people began interfering with the driver’s arrest, causing the solo-officer to put out a priority call for assistance.

The Hemet K-9’s call for help brought an overwhelming response of dozens of officials from Hemet PD and other surrounding law enforcement agencies, including Hemet PD, Riverside Sheriff’s Hemet and San Jacinto Stations, California Highway Patrol, and California Department of Forestry. They were assisted by Riverside Sheriff’s aviation unit in “Star-9” as well as Hemet and multi-jurisdictional Gang Task Force members.

It took ten minutes and dozens of officials arriving at the scene with less-lethal force options, including bean bag shotguns and pepperball launchers to disperse the unruly crowd.

At the end of their investigation officers determined the driver, later identified as Wilver Haroldo Garcia-Lanas, 21, of Hemet was driving recklessly on the busy street filled with children who were playing basketball.

Witnesses at the scene said when the man on the mobility scooter confronted the Garcia-Lanas about his dangerous actions, the reckless driver reportedly “sucker-punched the much older man, leading to the incident.

Officers overpower and subdue a man during an incident involving a reckless driver, who reportedly assaulted another person. Gary Rainwater photo
Officers overpower and subdue a man during an incident involving a reckless driver, who reportedly assaulted another person. Gary Rainwater photo

“(Garcia-Lanas) was being a total jackass,” a man who requested to be identified as “Jr.” said from the scene. “He was racing up and down the street like an idiot, doing ‘donuts’ and acting like a fool.”

Based on evidence and witness statements, officers arrested arrested the reckless driver, who resisted arrest during the incident.

He was booked into the Southwest Detention Center in Murrieta on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon and resisting arrest with violence, both are felonies. He was released within hours of his arrest after posting $25,000 bail.

Alicia Blanca Garcia-Lunas was also arrested and booked into the Southwest Detention Center on suspicion of resisting arrest with violence. She was released within hours of her arrest when she posted $10,000 bail.

Both Wilver and Alicia Garcia-Lunas are scheduled to be arraigned at the Southwest Justice Center Aug. 11.

The victim from the mobility scooter was treated for minor injuries to his face, head and arm. he declined further medical treatment at the scene.

Several other people who were detained for interfering with the investigation were later released.

 

ORIGINAL STORY

Numerous officials from several agencies responded to the officer's call for assistance. Robert Carter photo
Numerous officials from several agencies responded to the officer’s call for assistance. Robert Carter photo

HEMET — A “concerned, older citizen” on a mobility scooter was left beaten and bloodied after he reportedly tried to stop a person from driving recklessly around children playing basketball on a city street Friday, June 16.

The incident, which brought authorities from multiple surrounding agencies, happened at N. Alessandro Street and W. Latham Avenue, north of Florida Avenue, in Hemet.

While trying to calm the situation, the first officer who arrived, one of Hemet PD’s K-9 handlers, was immediately set-upon by a large group; causing the officer to put out a priority call for assistance.

The K-9 handler then stopped communicating with dispatchers for several, tense moments, as he tried to apprehend the driver of a small, white Toyota while trying to control the angry group. Some from the crowd who officers detained were later identified as family members of the driver.

The officer’s priority call for help brought a flood of law enforcement officials from multiple agencies, including Hemet PD, Riverside Sheriff’s Hemet and San Jacinto Stations, California Highway Patrol, and California Department of Forestry. They were assisted by Riverside Sheriff’s aviation unit in “Star-9” as well as Hemet and multi-jurisdictional Gang Task Force members.

The ten-minute-long fracas began at 7:20 p.m., when City of Hemet emergency dispatchers began receiving multiple 911 calls reporting that 15 to 20 juveniles and adults were fighting in the street.

Arriving less than one minute after the call was dispatched, Hemet PD’s newest K-9 handler was the first officer to arrive at the chaotic scene. Within moments of making contact with the growing crowd, the officer put out the first of several priority calls made by officials requesting additional back up.

Officers spent several minutes overpowering and subduing the driver at the scene, who continued resisting arrest. According to witnesses at the scene, the man who resisted officers was the reckless driver.

A woman who was later arrested is led, screaming, away from her home. Gary Rainwater photo
A woman who was later arrested is led, screaming, away from her home. Gary Rainwater photo

As the driver resisted, he made repeated attempts to spit on the arresting officers. Officials later covered the man’s head with a mesh, spit mask; used to keep subjects from being able to spit on authorities, medical personnel or other citizens.

Even as officials flooded into the neighborhood and with Star-9 circling overhead, the rowdy crowd initially refused to disperse and only calmed down and began leaving the area when they were eventually outnumbered by authorities armed with several less-lethal force options, including bean bag shotguns and pepperball launchers.

Officials continued flooding into the neighborhood and surrounding streets for several minutes.

About ten minutes after the K-9 officer’s arrival and priority call for assistance, officials at the scene were finally able to get the crowds to disperse and bring the incident under control.

Several of the driver’s family members were detained during the incident and investigation.

At least one woman was led away from a home – handcuffed, jumping up and down and screaming in Spanish – to a waiting patrol vehicle. (See attached video below.)

Another young, male adult was also handcuffed and detained after he allegedly interfered with officers attempting to detain the driver.

It was not known if either was arrested or charged or if they were released at the conclusion of the investigation.

City of Hemet firefighter/paramedics and AMR medics responded to the scene to evaluate and treat the man for facial and other injuries. He was bleeding from the head and face and had bumps, bruises and complaints of general pain.

With more than one dozen patrol vehicles clogging the narrow street, most of the medical personnel had to park at the end of the street or around the corner and walk the length of the street to treat the original victim that had been assaulted.

During a subsequent investigation officers determined the incident began when a man, who was later apprehended but not yet identified by officials, was allegedly driving recklessly around children playing in the street.

Numerous officials from multiple agencies responded to the officer's call for assistance. Robert Carter photo
Numerous officials from multiple agencies responded to the officer’s call for assistance. Robert Carter photo

Witnesses at the scene said when the citizen on the mobility scooter confronted the reckless driver about his dangerous actions, the driver reportedly assaulted the man, leading to the incident.

“The (driver) was being a total jackass,” a man who requested to be identified as “Jr.” said from the scene. “He was racing up and down the street like an idiot, doing ‘donuts’ and acting like a fool.”

Another man at the scene can be heard on video complaining about the officer’s actions, specifically the officers who detained the screaming woman.

At the end of the violent confrontation officials questioned those who were temporarily detained during the melee, while officials conducted an investigation and questioned the victim and other witnesses about the incident.

It was not immediately known if the original driver or anyone else was arrested or charged in connection with the incident.

“Nothing new to see here,” Carol Newman, another witness to the incident said. “Just another fine day in Hemet.”

This is a developing story and will be updated as additional information becomes available.

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