Reckless driver fleeing police interrupts big day for Pomona admissions

Three police officers escort a man in handcuffs.
Claremont and Upland police arrested a suspect, accused of fleeing a traffic stop, in front of the Claremont Colleges Services building on Monday, March 25. (Courtesy: Steven Felschundneff/Claremont Courier)

As several tour groups walked through the 5Cs Monday morning, Ontario Police Department helicopters hovered over Pomona College blaring messages through a loudspeaker, searching for a suspect believed to have run a traffic stop in Upland and recklessly driven onto campus.

The Upland Police Department has since identified the suspect as Tyler Parker, a 33-year-old from Upland, according to The Claremont Courier. UPD attempted to pull Parker over for not having license plates on his car, but Parker accelerated to more than 100 miles per hour, ignoring stop signs, according to UPD Sgt. Anthony Kabayan.

Parker drove down Sixth Street and ditched his car in the parking lot outside Pomona’s Alexander Hall, running through the 5Cs, according to the Courier.

5C students received an emergency text message from Campus Safety at 11:10 a.m. instructing them to remain indoors and initiating a shelter in place directive. Thatcher Music Hall was placed under lockdown, according to Lily Ross PO ’22, who was singing in Thatcher when she was instructed to stay inside.

As most public schools were on spring break this week, Monday was a very popular tour date, according to Pomona tour guide Cynthia Cuellar PO ’21. She was leading a tour during the incident and said she saw Parker driving down Sixth Street.

Fearing for her tour group’s safety, she stopped them from crossing the street, but said she saw Parker nearly hit a student who was crossing.

Noah Cissè PZ ’19 was driving down Sixth Street around 11 a.m. and said he also witnessed Parker nearly hit the student. Justin Blankson-Phipps PZ ’19 was in Cissè’s car, and saw Parker’s car speeding on the wrong side of the road. Parker sped past three or four cars and ignored a stop sign, according to Blankson-Phipps.

After losing track of Parker, UPD cancelled its pursuit until an eyewitness on the scene notified the police of the car’s location, according to Kabayan.

A Campus Safety officer alerted the Claremont Police Department of Parker’s presence on campus, and CPD then detained Parker. Parker was booked by UPD into the West Valley Detention Center in Rancho Cucamonga, according to the Courier.

Other tour guides had difficulty dealing with the situation while leading groups. Jay Pier PO ’21 was leading his group into Little Bridges for an information session when campus vehicles and police cars blocked the area from Thatcher Hall to College Avenue.

“There were definitely a bunch of questions we had to answer about Campus Safety and we had to assure the groups that this wasn’t a common occurrence,” Pier said.

He returned to the admissions building, but was unable to leave due to the Campus Safety message. Prospective students were also held temporarily in the admissions office, according to Pier.

“I ended up answering questions and giving an impromptu info session in admissions for prospective students who weren’t able to move to Little Bridges for the real one,” Pier said.

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