San Diego police say the driver endangered his two children by placing him in the center of a so-called street takeover, where cars perform casual and dangerous stunts and other stunts from crowds of onlookers.
Jonathan Mendoza’s two children, 31, were in the back seat of his vehicle as he performed exercises in a crowd at College Grove Shopping Center Tuesday night, according to San Diego police.
St. Gregory Minter of the SDPD said police arrived to find Mendoza’s car performing stunts and saw his car hit a flower box and came dangerously close to injuring onlookers around 9:30 p.m. When officers stopped the car, they noticed two children – five and six – in the seat back. Minter added that children did not have booster seats, which is required for children up to age 8 in California.
Mendoza was arrested for child endangerment. He also faces charges of reckless driving and DUI. Mendoza is being held in San Diego Central Jail on $100,000 bail pending indictment Friday.
Police said dozens of vehicles were involved in the seizure on Tuesday, but did not reveal whether there were other arrests.
Street takeovers, also known as sideshows, are becoming more and more common in San Diego. Close dozens, sometimes hundreds, of an intersection or highway and make way for cars to perform stunts.
San Diego police reportedly said that a bystander was injured, but the person took off before police arrived at the scene. Two people were arrested.
Events are often videotaped, including a large Mission Valley rally attended by at least 50 cars that had hundreds of people blocking a busy intersection and Interstate 8. Police said one onlooker was injured during the ordeal.
In another instance, tires squeaked for about 20 minutes as cars spun in circles outside high-rises in downtown San Diego. Bianca Fempress, who filmed a video of the takeover of the building, said she saw at least three cars that nearly missed the pedestrians who were circling them.
Warning: adult language. Bianka Fimbres shot this awesome video last weekend while working on the 19th floor of a building near the intersection of Broadway and Pacific Coast Highway.
One in North Park ended in tragedy when a dog in a tenement near Takeover on Madison Avenue and 30th Street became so afraid of loud engine spurs and burning tires, the dog jumped out of the window and ran on Interstate 805 and was injured and killed by the car.
Street takeovers are often pre-announced on social media, resulting in crowds of people standing around watching, with some having to dodge donut-making cars at the last minute.
“I don’t think any of these people understand the ripple effects of what their actions are causing,” Heather Crichton told NBC 7’s Joe Little.
But San Diego police began cracking down on sideshows by seizing the cars of participating drivers. From January to June, at least 34 cars were seized and several more are awaiting written approval.
Criminal charges are possible for drivers who are caught. And being a spectator doesn’t come without repercussions, either. SDPD Lt. Adam Sharqi said anyone found in a burglary could be subject to a misdemeanor, which comes with a fine of up to $1,000 and/or six months in prison.