Weapon found in car after driver flees vehicle

Gustine police said a local man faces multiple charges following a Monday morning incident in which the suspect attempted to flee a vehicle in which an assault weapon was later found.

Police said a patrol officer moved into position to make a traffic stop after observing a vehicle traveling at a high rate of speed eastbound on South Avenue. According to police reports, the driver accelerated eastbound on Meredith at a higher rate of speed when the officer moved into position behind the suspect vehicle. As the officer was preparing to activate his emergency lights for the stop, he saw the driver fail to stop at a stop sign at Sycamore and Meredith, and then witnessed the driver strike a light pole at that intersection.

The driver, who was subsequently identified as 18-year-old Jose Pantoja of Gustine, and a female passenger fled on foot.

The officer was able to apprehend Pantoja following a foot pursuit.

An assault rifle and four loaded high capacity magazines were subsequently located in the vehicle, which police said was later determined to have been stolen out of San Jose. Police said Pantoja was booked on felony charges of possession of an assault rifle and three counts of manufacture/import/sales/possession of a large capacity magazine. A charge of possession of stolen property was later added when the vehicle was determined to be stolen, according to authorities.

Pantoja was also booked on misdemeanor charges of being an unlicensed driver, hit and run with property damage and obstructing an officer, police reported.

Winds cause widespread outage

High winds are blamed for a Sunday power outage which affected Newman, Gustine and surrounding communities.

Pacific Gas & Electric Co. spokesman Denny Boyles told Mattos Newspapers that just over 12,000 customers in and around Gustine and nearly 10,000 in the Newman service area were impacted by the outage, which Boyles said was related to heavy winds.

Boyles said 4, 568 Gustine-area customers were without power for less than two hours; 6,104 were out from two to eight hours and 943 were out more than eight hours.

In the Newman area, he told Mattos Newspapers, 4,913 customers were out less than two hours, 1,787 were out two to eight hours and 3,176 were without power for longer than eight hours.

Newman wastewater plant operator Lance Perry said winds gusting up to 45 miles an hour were recorded Sunday at that location.

Perfecto Millan, Newman’s superintendent of public works, said the high winds brought down one tree limb in Lions Park (next to Matteri Field) and one limb near Pioneer Park.

No downed trees were reported in Gustine, City Manager Doug Dunford reported.

West Side weather

Newman resident Marge Carvalho, an observer for the National Weather Service, reported the following high/low temperatures for the past week. Readings for the previous 24-hour period are recorded at 5 p.m. daily.

Monday, Feb. 3: 60/40

Tuesday, Feb. 4: 58/36

Wednesday, Feb. 5: 64/38

Thursday, Feb. 6: 69/37

Friday, Feb. 7: 70/37

Saturday, Feb. 8: 68/33

Sunday, Feb. 9: 69/38