Hazleton City Police say that at approximately 1:20am this morning they responded to a call for a stolen vehicle in the 500 block of Garfield Street where the victim reported that their vehicle was unlocked and running in front of their residence, and was stolen. Officers met with a 57 year old female who stated that their 2004 Saturn Vue was taken from E 2nd Street while it was running and unattended. The victim saw the vehicle traveling East on 2nd Street and possibly heading towards Diamond Ave.
Hazleton Patrol Officers spanned out throughout the City searching for the vehicle and approximately 25 minutes later at approximately 1:45am, they saw the stolen vehicle being operated by the suspect in the area of Bennett Court and Hemlock Street.
Officer James Shaw turned on his lights and sirens to conduct a traffic stop, but the car kept going South on Bennett Court without stopping at any intersections and fleeing from the officers. The vehicle then turned east on Maple Street and north on Cedar Street.
According to police, upon reaching Cedar Street the vehicle fled at a high rate of speed and upon reaching Diamond Ave the vehicle turned into the parking lot of Dollar General, going to the dead end by Morris Lane. Upon reaching the dead end, Officer Shaw exited his vehicle, drew his sidearm and ordered the operator out of the vehicle. The operator put the vehicle in reverse momentarily before placing it back in drive, and traveling up a set of wooden stairs and over the slight wall at this location.
At this time, Officer Jonathan Leonard was already coming down Columbus Court and boxed the vehicle in while Officer Brian Dubin came down Morris Lane.
The operator refused to exit the vehicle at which time he was removed by Officer Leonard and Shaw. After being taken into custody the actor was identified as 44 year old Milton Galarza-Rodriguez.
Police say Galarza was found to have a key for a Ford vehicle in his pocket, possibly belonging to the stolen Ford Escape from last night. He was also found to have a warrant for a State Parole Violation.
Galarza-Rodriguez complained of injury, and was transported to LVHH for evaluation. While at the hospital, Galarza was Mirandized and questioned about the Ford key at which time he admitted to stealing the Ford, and to stealing the Saturn.
Galarza advised that the Ford would be parked a block or two away from where he was apprehended.
Officer Shaw suffered an injured right hand while taking Galarza into custody and was being evaluated as well.
The Ford Escape stolen the evening before was later located at the intersection of Garfield and 3rd Street. The Ford key in Galarza’s possession was found to operate that vehicle.
Galarza was charged with the following:
Theft By Unlawful Taking F3
Receiving Stolen Property F3
Fleeing and Eluding F3
Unauthorized Use of Motor Vehicle M2
Resisting Arrest M2
Careless Driving S
Duties at Stop Signs x2 S
One Way Roadways S
Driving While Operating Privilege is Suspended S
Approach of Emergency Vehicle S
Reckless Driving S
More charges are pending from Officer Colton Kishel for the other stolen vehicle recovered and will be filed today.
"As we continue to aggressively police our streets we are removing the criminal element one at a time" Chief Jerry Speziale said on the arrest.