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Aptos Man Arrested Following Santa Cruz Car Chase

Suspect allegedly tried to run vehicles and pedestrians off the road

An Aptos man was arrested Friday following a dramatic chase around the Santa Cruz and over Highway 17.

At the end of the ordeal, James Johnston, 37, of Aptos was taken into custody near Scotts Valley on a host of charges.

Around 7am Friday, Santa Cruz Police (SCPD) received multiple calls of a man in a white Toyota Celica brandishing a knife and driving recklessly in Santa Cruz. That was followed by more calls regarding the same vehicle intentionally running other vehicles off the road on Highway 17, SCPD said.   

SCPD officers eventually spotted the suspect’s vehicle on Ocean Street. When Johnston failed to stop, a pursuit was initiated. At one point the car darted into the parking lot of the Santa Cruz County Building and looped around the lot before charging back onto Ocean Street. The pursuit then continued north on Highway 17, through Scotts Valley, and into the Santa Cruz Mountains, according to SCPD. Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s deputies, the California Highway Patrol and Scotts Valley Police assisted with the pursuit.  

During the chase, officers learned the same vehicle was wanted in connection with a brandishing of a gun and threats to shoot police officers over the past few days. Throughout the several mile pursuit, which at times reached 100 miles per hour, Johnston reportedly continued to “intentionally” run vehicles and pedestrians off the road. Police eventually terminated the chase due to Johnston’s dangerous driving. 

Johnston’s Toyota ultimately stalled out on Glenwood Drive in Scotts Valley, where he then tried to flee on a bicycle. Johnston was taken into custody a few blocks away without further incident, SCPD said.  

Johnston was positively identified and a knife was recovered from the scene. He was booked for multiple counts of assault with a deadly weapon (the vehicle), brandishing a weapon (a knife), hit and run, and reckless evading with a vehicle, SCPD said.  

One victim suffered a minor injury when the Toyota collided with their vehicle during the pursuit. 

Officers are still following up to determine the motive in the case. Anyone with information about the case is asked to call SCPD’s Investigations Unit at 831-420-5820. 

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