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Officials: Los Altos carjacking suspect may have committed slew of other crimes

Santa Cruz carjacking
Courtesy of the Santa Cruz Police Department
Law enforcement officials and rescue personnel assist with the rescue of John Kenyanjui, a Portland, Ore., resident suspected of a carjacking in Santa Cruz – and possibly one in Los Altos – Tuesday afternoon. Pursued by police officers, Kenyanjui drove a stolen car off a cliff into the Pacific Ocean but survived the fall without sustaining injuries.

Updated 2:53 p.m. July 1: A man responsible for a Los Altos carjacking Tuesday (June 30) could be the same suspect who led Santa Cruz law enforcement officials on a high-speed chase later the same day before ultimately plummeting off a cliff into the Pacific Ocean, according to the Los Altos Police Department. 

John Kenyanjui, the suspect in the Santa Cruz case, survived the fall without sustaining injuries and managed to climb out of the vehicle, out of the water and up the cliff, the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office reported. Deputies arrested the 56-year-old Portland, Ore., resident and charged him with carjacking, evading arrest, hit-and-run and unlawful possession of a weapon. He is being held in the Santa Cruz County Jail on $100,000 bail.

The Los Altos carjacking took place at approximately 1:30 p.m. Tuesday on San Antonio Road at the Foothill Expressway traffic light, said Sgt. Cameron Shearer of the Los Altos Police Department. A Black man approximately 50 years old allegedly pointed a gun at the driver of a Mercedes idling at the light and demanded the driver give up the vehicle. The suspect was unable to operate the car, however, and he pointed his weapon at the driver of an SUV behind the Mercedes, stealing that vehicle instead and continuing eastbound on Foothill Expressway. Witnesses said the suspect wore a white shirt, black shorts and red shoes.

“It’s a possibility it’s the same guy from Santa Cruz, but we can’t say for sure,” Shearer said.

The suspect committed the Los Altos carjacking because the stolen vehicle he drove from San Francisco had become disabled, a Los Altos Police Department watch commander told the Town Crier Tuesday night.

The watch commander said the man was ultimately apprehended in Santa Cruz.

At approximately 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, witnesses called 911 to report a man shooting a handgun in the air near Scott Creek in Davenport, according to a Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office press release. That same man is suspected of then carjacking someone in the area and leading deputies on a chase involving speeds of more than 100 mph toward the city of Santa Cruz. The deputies lost the suspect, but Santa Cruz Police Department officers picked up the chase on West Cliff Drive, where the suspect crashed in a single-vehicle accident, driving off the cliff and into the ocean.

The Sheriff’s Office identified the Davenport carjacking suspect as Kenyanjui on Wednesday afternoon.

“We are working with other law enforcement agencies to determine if he had any connection to separate similar crimes in the Bay Area,” according to a second press release from the law enforcement agency.

– Town Crier Editor Bruce Barton contributed to this report

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