A chance sighting of a white cargo van with a woman’s battered and bloodied body inside triggered a multi-jurisdiction police pursuit and a shooting Thursday after the driver of the van allegedly tried to dump the woman in Canyon, south of Moraga.
Investigators now believe the woman was kidnapped by a Vallejo man, identified as Juan Ayon-Barraza, 24, and shot at least once before she was taken to a remote stretch of Pinehurst Road and abandoned.
Police units investigating the report of a van with a body inside fell in behind the vehicle as it sped away from the scene shortly before 7 p.m., roughly two miles north of the Canyon Post Office, a chase ensuing as the driver drove first into Oakland and then for the Bay Bridge before heading into Richmond and the area of S. 37th and Stege.
The van, its driver taking evasive action in an effort to elude police, was fired on by officers after Ayon-Barraza veered toward officers and reportedly brandished a pistol.
Two Oakland and one Richmond police officer opened fire on the van, striking Ayon-Barraza, who steered the van into an Oakland police car, injuring two officers.
A tactical unit quickly sealed off the halted and damaged van, neighbors reporting that the driver appeared to have crawled into the rear passenger area.
Tactical officers advanced on the van and found Ayon-Barraza dead inside. It was not immediately known if he died as a result of police gunfire or by his own hand. He was pronounced deceased at 8:27 p.m.
Both officers were transported to Highland Hospital with moderate and non-life threatening injuries, police said, after one was dragged out of the line of fire by a colleague. One officer has been treated and released while the other officer remains hospitalized.
Police units filtering into Canyon after the reported sighting there located the female victim and determined that she was unconscious but alive, shot at least once after apparently having been kidnapped in Solano County. The unidentified victim was also taken to Highland Hospital in Oakland where police said she remains in critical condition on life support.
Vallejo Police supplied the following account of events leading up to the kidnapping:
On Thursday, April 16th, 2020, at approximately 8:08 AM, the Vallejo Police Department received a call from concerned family members about a missing 29-year-old female. Family members last saw the victim at approximately 7:35 AM, in the 900 block of Kentucky Street in the City of Vallejo with suspect Juan AYON-BARRAZA, a 24-year-old Vallejo resident. The victim told family members that she was leaving to get breakfast with him and would return. A short time later, BARRAZA, made contact with a family member of the victim via telephone, where he made an unsettling comment – causing them to be extremely concerned for her well-being. At approximately 8:00 AM, the victim’s family contacted BARRAZA in person and confronted him in an attempt to determine the victim’s whereabouts. BARRAZA was evasive with the family and then fled from them. Utilizing every resource available, the Vallejo Police Department Detective Division worked this case diligently as an at-risk missing person case. Later in the early evening, a concerned citizen in the city limits of Moraga, California called 911 after observing a subject discarding what appeared to be a body on the side of the road from a white van. The body reported in Moraga was found to be a female victim, and was later confirmed to be the at-risk missing person from Vallejo. She was still alive but unresponsive and transported to a local hospital, where she was treated for at least one gunshot wound. The victim is presently in critical condition. Oakland Police Officers responded to the area in Moraga where they attempted to stop the white van seen leaving the area. Instead of stopping, the driver, later identified as Juan Ayon-BARRAZA fled, taking them on a pursuit that ended in Richmond.