Man charged with murder in East Bakersfield hit-and-run

Crime Watch

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — A man is facing charges including murder after authorities allege he stole a pickup then intentionally ran over a pedestrian in East Bakersfield.

Christopher Andrew Lopez, 21, was identified in a photo lineup as the driver of the Ford F-150, according to a document filed by the California Highway Patrol. It’s alleged Lopez struck the man with the intent to kill.

A witness identified Lopez in a photo lineup based on his physical resemblance to the driver and a matching tattoo on his neck, according to the filing.

When officers arrested Lopez, he was wearing black and white Reebok tennis shoes matching shoes surveillance video showed suspect wore, the filing says.

Lopez is held on $1 million bail and is charged with first-degree murder, vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence, assault with a deadly weapon other than a firearm, hit and run causing death or permanent serious injury, possession of a stolen vehicle, taking a vehicle without the owner’s consent and driving on a suspended or revoked license.

The morning of July 23, a woman reported her white 2003 Ford F-150 had been stolen, according to the filing by CHP investigators. Roughly two hours later, the pickup struck a pedestrian in the north alley of Flower Street, just west of Haley Street.

The pedestrian was pronounced dead at Kern Medical. The coroner’s office has not released his name.

A review of surveillance footage indicated the pickup was the same vehicle reported stolen, the filing says. Witnesses gave officers a description of the driver.

The next day, the woman who reported the stolen pickup said she found the truck on Kent Avenue, just south of Jade Avenue.

Surveillance footage taken from that neighborhood shows a man run from the truck to a home on Shelley Lane, the document says. Investigators contacted a resident there and learned the man discarded two articles of clothing, which the resident retrieved from a trash can and gave to officers.

Investigators had the truck and the suspected driver’s clothing, but no suspect.

A key piece of information came on Aug. 10 when a CHP officer flagged down on Flower Street was given a description of the hit-and-run driver that matched the one provided by witnesses and surveillance video.

More importantly, the person told the officer the suspect’s first name was “Chris,” and he drove a gray Toyota SUV.

Officers receive a report Aug. 12 about an abandoned vehicle matching the SUV at an address on Scott Place, in East Bakersfield. The reporting party told officers a Chris Lopez who lives in the neighborhood possibly drove the vehicle.

Investigators looked up driver’s license and booking photos of Lopez. They appeared similar to the crash suspect, the filing says.

Lopez was arrested Aug. 12 and charged this week.

Court records show he pleaded no contest in June to a felony drug charge and misdemeanor resisting arrest and, in a separate case, to assault with force likely to result in great bodily injury.

Lopez is next due in court Sept. 13.

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