Cell phone video captures driver of stolen van on rampage


Christopher Howard, 55, arrested, suspected in crazy crime spree.

SAN DIEGO — A Nevada man suspected of going on a crime rampage over the past week in a stolen van was arrested Thursday, November 11 in Kearny Mesa.

Christopher Mitchell Howard, 55, could be facing an assault with a deadly weapon charge at his arraignment Tuesday in court — the deadly weapon being the stolen van.

Police said the van was stolen from a restaurant in Las Vegas on November 2.

On November 4, a construction worker with a cell phone captured video of a white van plowing through a barricade and hitting another car on South 40th Street in the Southcrest neighborhood of San Diego.

Then, on November 6, the same van was suspected of smashing through the front door of a Vons grocery store on Regents Road in the Golden Triangle; not once but twice, according to a Starbucks worker who came face to face with the driver.

“Yeah, he had his hand up as if to say it’s okay or keep back.  And then he pulled back and came in a second time,” said the store worker, John Partika.

On November 10 in Kearny Mesa, San Diego police officers finally caught up with Howard after he was detained by a security guard inside the Target store on Othello Ave.

When police walked Howard out to the parking lot in handcuffs he tried to run away, the attempted escape caught on dashcam video.

But he did not get far before officers captured him again.  The suspect could be heard rambling incoherently as a camera recorded his arrest.

“Extremely nice, and extremely cordial.  It’s not about that.  I’ve been extremely compliant.  Excuse me get the f*** out of my face,” Howard said.

Police located the stolen van in the Target parking lot.  Officers also detained a woman, suspected of being a passenger in the van.

Howard is being held in Central jail on a grand theft, possession of a stolen vehicle, and petty theft charges. He is due in court Tuesday for arraignment.

Howard could be facing an assault with a deadly weapon charge, if he can be positively identified as the driver who crashed through the construction site in Southcrest.



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