Police pursuit

$94K Raised for Landscaper After Work Truck Stolen and Wrecked in Pursuit on Live TV

The GoFundMe for Andres Benitez, who has a landscaping business with his family out of Whittier, had raised upwards of $94,000 by Friday.

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Donations were pouring in for the victim of a carjacking on live TV as the suspect stole the victim's new work truck that he had been saving for years to afford.

The GoFundMe for Andres Benitez, who has a landscaping business with his family out of Whittier, had raised upwards of $94,000 by Friday.

Benitez thanked donors on NBC4 and in an Instagram Reel, saying he never expected support like this after he was carjacked at his home while news stations were covering a pursuit in progress.

Benitez said via GoFundMe that the work tools and the truck were insured, but deputies told him that since the vehicle was used in the pursuit and shot at, it is now considered evidence, and it wouldn't be clear when or if he would get it back.

The truck sustained significant damage during the bizarre pursuit, as NBCLA's cameras captured the suspect slamming into other driver's vehicles, sheriff and police patrol units, and driving erratically along freeways and on sidewalks.

Sperber Landscape Companies made a whopping $10,000 donation to the GoFundMe, while hundreds of others have offered donations and words of support.

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In the middle of a dangerous police pursuit the individual stole a truck after breaking into a family's home and grabbing the keys. Alex Rozier reports for the NBC4 News on Nov. 9, 2022.

"I did not think, 'oh I'll start a GoFundMe, and people will help me.' I never thought that was going to happen," he said. "I just really want to thank everybody for the amount of support."

A landscaping company has also offered to loan the family a work truck in the meantime.

On Nov. 9 around 5 p.m., a bizarre pursuit began in the Fullerton area where the suspect was behind the wheel of a black sedan, and had tried to steal another vehicle. When unsuccessful, the suspect, later identified as Johnny Anchondo, was accused of stealing a white van and continuing the chase.After the van was wedged between two vehicles, the suspect was seen climbing out the van window and running.

He ran into a Whittier neighborhood, and into the Benitez home.

"When I saw that he was going in the house my first reaction was, 'My mother's in the house, I've got to defend ourselves,'" said Benitez. "I grabbed the first kitchen knife I saw and I was like, 'Bro, you've got to get out the house or I'm going to have to stab you, right now.'"

Just when police thought a pursuit couldn't get anymore dangerous, it did. A driver was desperately trying to get away from police and used three stolen cars including one he told from a family after breaking into their home. Hetty Chang reports for the NBC4 News on Nov. 9, 2022.

The man then grabbed the keys to the Benitez family's new white work truck off a table. The family saved money to buy the truck and tools for their landscaping business

"When I saw him do that, I was like there's no way I'm going to let this guy off," Benitez said. "I cornered him, and all he did is show me some scissors he had. I guess he was trying to intimidate me."

Benitez said his mother intervened, holding him back and telling him to let the man go.

A pursuit came to an end Wednesday Nov. 9, 2022 at a Hacienda Heights gas station.

The man ran outside, where he encountered Benitez's father. Video from NewsChopper4 captured the chaotic moments that followed as family members briefly scuffled with the carjacker.

"Once I saw him start it, I kind of already knew it was over," Benitez said. "Just by looking in his eyes, he already knew it was going to be the last day of his life or his freedom, so he didn't care."

"When he started the truck, that's when my heart broke because I knew it was over."

The driver accelerated out of the driveway, damaging the front end of the truck. He turned right down another street as Benitez and his family watched helplessly from the front yard.

Benitez said his family bought the truck about three weeks ago.

The pursuit continued with the driver speeding the wrong way on narrow two-lane roads, running red lights at intersections and crashing into several cars. The front driver's side tire shredded off and the chase eventually came to an end at a Hacienda Heights gas station in a standoff.

The driver was finally taken into custody.

Anchondo faces several felony charges and is due in court Friday.

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