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Police chief chases down suspect on bike

Posted: July 8, 2012 8:00 a.m.
Updated: July 8, 2012 8:00 a.m.

REDONDO BEACH, Calif. (AP) — A burglary suspect was nabbed in Redondo Beach after he was spotted by the local police chief, who chased the suspect down on a bike.

Redondo Beach Police Chief Joe Leonardi said he spotted the suspect Thursday while on his lunch hour in Veterans Park, the same area where a transient attacked a 19-year-old public works employee on Monday. That attacker had ridden a black, rusty bike.

Leonardi, 58, recognized the bike and gave chase after the man spotted him and rode away.

The suspect soon ditched the bike and a backpack and ducked into an alley.

"He's 20 years younger than me. There's no way I'm going to keep up with him," Leonardi told the Daily Breeze. "He's jumping fences and running. I know I'm not doing that."

The chief, wearing a suit and tie, ran back to Walker's bicycle, picked up the backpack, climbed aboard the bike and started pedaling after the man.

"It has really high handlebars," Leonardi said. "I'm trying to ride this thing. I felt like the Wicked Witch of the West, remember from 'The Wizard of Oz?' The handlebars are spread out."

Another officer who responded to help Leonardi make the arrest couldn't believe what he was seeing, the chief said.

"He said it was surreal," Leonardi told the newspaper. "He looks up and sees me riding a bike. He can't figure out why I am out getting exercise in a suit on a bicycle."

The suspect, 36-year-old Morgan Wayne Walker, was taken into custody on suspicion of evading arrest and possession of stolen property.

A stolen Cal Poly San Luis Obispo college ring engraved with a name was found in Walker's path. Officers believe Walker dumped it. Police contacted a Hermosa Beach resident who turned out to have lost the ring in a recent burglary.

Walker is being investigated for Monday's beating of the public works employee, who was hit in the head with a glass bottle.

Leonardi said he's taken some good natured ribbing from officers, but said it felt good to get out on the streets again.

"This is the fun part of police work," Leonardi told the Daily Breeze. "Being chief isn't always fun. Being a police officer is."


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