The 22-year-old man behind the wheel of the vehicle that struck and injured 25 cadets from a Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Deputy Recruit training class Wednesday morning in Whittier was arrested that afternoon on suspicion of attempted murder on peace officers, according to law enforcement officials.
In a news release from the Sheriff’s Department, Nicholas Joseph Gutierrez was arrested at about 3:15 p.m. on Wednesday. Additional charges are pending, the release indicated. According to the LASD Inmate Information Center, bail was set at $2 million.
“Homicide investigators are continuing their investigation and will share additional information as it becomes available,” the release continued. “Homicide investigators intend to present this case to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office this Friday for filing considerations.”
According to L.A. County Sheriff Alex Villanueva during a news conference Wednesday morning in Orange County, a recruit class assigned to the STARS Explore Training Academy was doing a routine run near the academy, running northbound on the 10600 block of Mills Avenue in unincorporated Whittier, when, at about 6:20 a.m., a vehicle traveling southbound on the street moved into the northbound lane and struck the group head-on.
Gutierrez, according to a California Highway Patrol news release, is a Diamond Bar resident. He was driving a 2018 Honda CRV.
The academy class, Villanueva said, was made up of 75 recruits. Of the 25 cadets injured, 16 were minor injuries, four were moderate and were in stable condition, and five were in critical condition. Those injuries, he added, included broken bones, head trauma and lost limbs.
The driver, who was “negative on a field sobriety test and blew 0.0 on the breathalyzer,” Villanueva said, was also transported to a hospital for treatment of injuries. The possibility of drugs in the driver’s system was not ruled out.
Villanueva said during the Wednesday morning press conference that the incident initially appeared to be an accident. However, he had added that a CHP investigation would better determine that. He did say that there were no skid marks at the scene of the incident. The subsequent arrest indicates that wrongdoing is suspected.
LASD officials said they had no further details to release about the investigation, but they urged those with information about the suspect or incident to call 323-890-5500 or offer anonymous tips by calling 800-222-TIPS (8477). You can also offer tips online at LACrimeStoppers.org or by using the “P3 Tips” mobile application on Google Play or Apple’s App Store.