They stopped for a moment face-to-face.
When the burglar came around the corner, arms full of merchandise from a local business he had just broken into, he didn’t expect to be confronted by two Westminster police officers — that much was obvious from the burglar’s wide-eyed expression.
Officers Mike Gradilla and Dean Sonderholzer knew what would happen next.
“The chase was on,” Gradilla said.
The suspect dropped the merchandise and ran.
Gradilla chased after him while Sonderholzer called it in — a burglary in progress at about 6 a.m. on Dec. 8 in the 10400 block of Bolsa Avenue.
The officers responded to the business after a security guard on site reported a possible burglary.
As the suspect raced toward the balcony of the two-story business, Gradilla said he had the man cornered.
“I thought, ‘There’s nowhere for this guy to go’,” he said.
Then, without hesitation, the suspect leaped from the building.
No way, Gradilla thought to himself.
“It was like a flying squirrel,” Gradilla said. “And then he landed on his feet like a cat, his legs buckled a bit but then he just kept running.”
Gradilla grabbed the railing and put his foot up, but then thought better of it and took the stairs instead.
“You have to quickly weigh the pros and cons of something like that — you don’t want to break your legs,” he said. “I was able to catch up to him.”
The suspect had a head start, but Gradilla had eyes on him.
The man, wearing a dark hoodie and carrying a hammer, bounded over a wall into the backyard of a nearby residence and Gradilla followed.
The suspect jumped a rod-iron fence but his jacket caught at the top, holding him up for a moment.
The suspect easily slid from the tied up hoodie, leaving it on the fence.
Gradilla lost sight of the suspect as the man rounded a corner but said he immediately knew he was nearby.
As the foot chase was happening, units from Westminster PD and a K9 unit from the Orange County Sheriff’s Department had set up a tight perimeter.
Duke, OCSD’s air unit, hovered overhead and notified officers there was someone hiding in the bushes of one of the backyards of the cul-de-sac. Duke picked up the heat signature using the forward looking infrared (FLIR) camera.
For as agile as this burglar proved to be, his choice of hiding spot was unimpressive.
The man ultimately was apprehended by an OCSD K9 after the suspect wouldn’t come out despite repeated commands from officers.
Turns out, the man was a parolee suspected in multiple burglaries in the area, Gradilla said.
Donnie Davenport, 25, of Westminster was arrested on suspicion of burglary, obstructing a police officer, warrants and a parole violation.
“It was pretty cool to get him off the streets,” Gradilla said. “Everyone came together and really helped. It was great teamwork.”