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Morgan Hill
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March 6, 2021

Suspect leads police on late-night pursuit through Morgan Hill

Jesus Varela was arrested on an outstanding warrant, SJPD says

A suspect on the run from San Jose Police early Friday morning led officers by ground and by helicopter on a chase through Morgan Hill before the man was arrested, according to authorities.

The suspect, Jesus Varela, 36, discarded a loaded handgun from the vehicle while he fled from officers, according to police. At one point during the pursuit, a “spike strip” that police had placed in the roadway destroyed all four tires on Varela’s vehicle, but he continued to drive away from officers for several more miles.

Varela “was known” to San Jose police and had an outstanding warrant for his arrest, according to San Jose Police Sgt. Christian Camarillo.

The suspect has also been involved in multiple pursuits in recent days with SJPD officers, Morgan Hill Police Sgt. Bill Norman added. Authorities considered Varela “armed and dangerous.”

The pursuit started shortly after midnight Feb. 5 when officers attempted to stop the red Audi that Varela was driving. Morgan Hill Police received a call from a San Jose Police helicopter that the vessel was following a red Audi in the area of Uvas and McKean roads, Norman said. The vehicle was traveling toward Morgan Hill.

The SJPD helicopter followed the vehicle as it traveled south on Uvas Road, past Uvas Reservoir, then northbound on Watsonville Road, Norman said. At that point, two Santa Clara County Sheriff’s deputies attempted to stop Varela in their patrol vehicles; but the Audi fled toward Santa Teresa Boulevard.

At the intersection of Santa Teresa Boulevard and Watsonville Road, Morgan Hill Police were “waiting with their spike strips to safely disable the suspect vehicle,” Norman said. Spike strips are designed to puncture the tires of a vehicle that drives over them.

Varela drove over the spike strips, damaging all four of the vehicle’s tires, but he continued to flee from officers.

The deputies continued to follow Varela as he turned north onto Butterfield Boulevard, Norman said. The SJPD helicopter was still following the Audi, and told officers that the driver had thrown something from the vehicle as he passed Barrett Avenue. Police later recovered the item, which was a loaded handgun.

The vehicle—traveling on rims with no tires—made its way to Monterey Road, where Varela continued to drive northbound, Norman said. The Audi lost control on Monterey Road, in the area of Laguna Avenue and collided with a center divider.

Varela exited the vehicle and ran on foot westbound into a dirt field just off the roadway, police said. Sheriff’s deputies ran after him and apprehended Varela in the field.

Varela was arrested and taken into custody by San Jose Police officers. There were no reported injuries during the pursuit and arrest, police said.

“This was a great example of law enforcement teamwork to apprehend a dangerous criminal,” Norman said.

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