Suspects in custody after stealing catalytic converter in high school parking lot
They also tried to steal a tow truck with the driver still inside.
WEST HAVEN, CT (WFSB) – Two suspects are in custody after they stole a catalytic converter in the West Haven High School parking lot, according to police.
The school resource officer at the school noticed a suspicious vehicle enter the parking lot and remove a catalytic converter before driving away.
The two men, later identified as Charlie Martinez-Rojas and Emmanuel Luna, fled the school grounds and continued to Main Street.
There, police say the pair attempted to remove another catalytic converter but were interrupted by a detective sergeant.
They again fled the area but soon lost control of the vehicle and struck a parked tow truck on First Avenue by Elm Street.
Authorities said the suspects abandoned their vehicle. They then tried to steal the tow truck with the driver still inside.
According to the driver’s manager, the two men threatened to strike the driver with a Sawzall.
“The car smashed the fender and the door and then got out of the car and tried to go after my driver with a Sawzall,” said Anothony Monaco, Co-Owner, Fountain’s Garage. “They went over there with the Sawzall to try and scare him as a weapon to get him out of the truck to take the truck.”
Once they crashed and failed to steal the truck, police say Luna assaulted an officer while he was placing him under arrest, and Martinez Rojas was found in a nearby yard.
Monaco said while his company truck was damaged, he was glad his driver wasn’t physically harmed.
“He was confused of what just happened and was very shocked, but I checked him out and I didn’t see blood or anything. I was grateful,” Monaco said.
Luna and Martinez-Rojas face a total of 15 charges from police that include assaulting an officer, strangulation, and 2nd-degree criminal mischief.
Police say Martinez-Rojas is currently on federal probation stemming from an attempted murder charge in Puerto Rico.
Copyright 2023 WFSB. All rights reserved.