No island getaway: Police nab suspect after American River swim

Suspect was casing bicycles at Sac State, officials say


Cory Jaynes - The State Hornet

Sacramento County Park Rangers assist the Sacramento State Police Department and Sacramento police apprehend a suspect who fled into the American River on Tuesday, August 20. The suspect fled downstream onto an island north of the J-Street Bridge where he surrendered to police.

Cory Jaynes and Jordan Silva-Benham

A suspected felon drew crowds along the Guy West Bridge and the American River Tuesday morning as he attempted to escape police by swimming downstream.

According to Anita Fitzhugh, Sacramento State public information officer, the suspect was casing bicycles Tuesday morning when the Sacramento State Police Department responded, causing the suspect to flee into the American River. 

The suspect was eventually apprehended after he made his way onto an island in the river north of the J Street Bridge. The suspect laid down and surrendered to police after a Sacramento Fire Department boat was brought onto the scene, 

During their escape, the suspect dropped “identifying items,” leading police to discover a felony warrant for their arrest.

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The suspect also dropped an empty holster, leading police to believe that they were “armed and dangerous,” Sacramento Fire Department Battalion Chief Rick Hudson said.

After the suspect fled into the river, the Sacramento Police Department and Sacramento County Park Rangers arrived to assist Sac State police.

The suspect then swam across the American River near the Guy West Bridge and hid in the brush of the eastern bank as police attempted to apprehend him. 

Police deployed a quadcopter drone and a helicopter to locate the suspect as officers attempted to apprehend him on the eastern riverbank.

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As the helicopter issued commands for the suspect to surrender to police, the suspect jumped back into the river and drifted downstream north of the J Street Bridge, prompting police to issue commands to nearby boats to move upstream and away from the suspect.

Tim Kustic, a Sacramento resident, said he was on his morning run when he saw the commotion.

“As I came over the levy there (were) five ranger cars and then I ran from there toward Sac State and then they all passed me and as I went over the Guy West and I saw this guy swimming,” Kustic said. “I went back to the officers so I said, ‘That might be the guy you’re looking for swimming in the river.’”

Kustic said he believed the suspect was wasting the city’s resources with the chase.

RELATED: Woman rescued after jumping off Guy West Bridge

Joanna Guerro lives on the west bank of the American River and was scared by the large police presence.

“It’s kind of scary because I have a 12 month old and you can’t see over this barrier here and you just hear the helicopters flying above and saying all these directions and you don’t know what direction the danger is (in),” Guerro said. “Especially because this neighborhood is so calm and quiet and that’s why we moved here, but things happen.”

This story was updated on Wednesday, August 21, to correctly state that the suspect swam downstream from Sac State.