Wanted man barges into funeral service, gets arrested at altar

Local

SAN DIEGO — A pursuit in the South Bay Thursday ended with a man barging into a church and getting arrested at the altar, interrupting a funeral service, authorities said.

The chase started around 10:30 a.m. when the man, who was wanted on a felony arrest warrant according to the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department, refused to pull over for deputies on state Route 94 near the Dulzura area of southeastern San Diego County.

Deputies chased the man, later identified as 40-year-old Jose Espinosa, at mostly slow speeds into Chula Vista, officials said. He circled a variety of neighborhoods on city streets and briefly drove on state Route 125 and Interstate 805. Around 11:15 a.m., the man finally pulled over near a church on Fourth Avenue and Oxford Street, jumping out and running off.

Deputies trailed the man as he entered the place of worship, Church of the Most Precious Blood. People who were attending a funeral service there could be seen in video from OnScene.TV streaming out of the church as deputies ushered them to safety outside.

Inside, deputies and a Cal Fire police officer were seen handcuffing the man, who was lying on the floor at the church altar. It wasn’t immediately clear if he had surrendered or if officials had taken him to the ground.

As authorities led the man out of the church, he was yelling incoherently. He was not immediately publicly identified, though officials appeared to know who he was, as they called out to him by first name when they tried to get him to surrender.

After the man was placed in the back of a sheriff’s department vehicle, deputies could be seen searching his Nissan Pathfinder, which was sitting across a grass field from the church at the base of a tree. Cargo was loaded on top and items that had apparently fallen out of the SUV were scattered on the grass.

FOX 5 has reached out for further details on what led up to the arrest and potential charges the man may face.

City News Service contributed to this report.

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