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FOCUS: ORANGE COUNTY COMMUNITY NEWS | CENTRAL: WESTMINSTER

Man Flees Accident Naked, Is Arrested

October 16, 1998|HARRISON SHEPPARD

A naked man fleeing a traffic accident threatened a 2-year-old girl with a knife and then locked himself inside a Westminster home for four hours Thursday, police and witnesses said.

A SWAT team surrounded the house, and the man gave up after police threatened to fire tear gas into the building.

Officials said Thursday night they do not know why Jeffrey M. Engelman, 36, of Rancho Palos Verdes was naked while driving, or why he fled from the collision. He was apparently suffering from an undisclosed medical problem before the accident and had been taking medication, police said.

Witnesses and police gave this account of the incident:

Engelman's Mazda collided with a pickup truck at Hazard and Newland streets about 1:30 p.m., and he fled the scene on foot.

One witness said he was wearing green silk boxer shorts, but Sgt. David Stronach of the Westminster Police Department said, "Our report is he was very naked."

Maria Gonzalez, 41, said Engelman burst into her Hazard Street home through a back door and threatened her 2-year-old granddaughter with a knife from her kitchen. He was completely naked, she said.

Gonzalez said she asked the intruder to release the child. As he was doing so, she said, she punched him in the groin, pushed him into the garage and shut the door. She then ran with the child, who was not harmed, to a neighbor's house to call police.

A phalanx of black-clad armored SWAT members surrounded the house and negotiated with Engelman for several hours. Finally, at about 5:30 p.m., he surrendered. Officers and paramedics went in and brought him out on a stretcher. He was taken to Huntington Beach Medical Center and treated for injuries that he apparently suffered in the traffic accident.

Engelman now faces charges of assault with a deadly weapon and fleeing the scene of an accident, Stronach said. Why Engelman, who had no outstanding warrants, fled the scene of the accident is still a mystery, Stronach said.

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