Crime

He wrecked 2 trucks, threatened to kill 4 people. Now, he faces prison and deportation

Rodolfo Joel Ulloa-Paz will serve 20 years in federal prison after leading police on a high-speed chase that involved carjackings, multiple collisions and a shootout with police.
Rodolfo Joel Ulloa-Paz will serve 20 years in federal prison after leading police on a high-speed chase that involved carjackings, multiple collisions and a shootout with police.

Multiple shootings. Three attempted carjackings. Two high-speed chases. And one shootout with police.

On Tuesday, all those numbers added up to a 20-year federal prison sentence for Rodolfo Joel Ulloa-Paz. The 30-year-old, undocumented immigrant from Mexico becomes the second person to receive a lengthy prison sentence stemming from a violent and chaotic effort two years ago to evade Charlotte-Mecklenburg police.

A second conspirator, Alan Israel Chavez-Cruz, received a 12-year sentence in March for carjacking and firearms charges. Cruz also is undocumented.

The episode unfolded in August 2016 when police began looking for a pickup whose occupants were believed to have been involved in multiple shootings.

Paz mug.jpeg
Rodolpho Joel Ulloa-Paz was sentenced to 20 years in federal prison Tuesday after leading police on a chaotic and violent chase through Charlotte in 2016. Mecklenburg County Jail

Authorities say Paz was at the wheel of the GMC Sierra. Cruz was his front-seat passenger. Four other companions were in the back of the truck.

When police tried to stop the Sierra, Paz sped off. He collided with two other vehicles, leaving his truck disabled. He parked it in the driveway of a home off W.T. Harris Boulevard, authorities say.

The four riders in the back all fled. Paz, however, stepped out of the pickup with a Mossberg 12-gauge shotgun. Cruz carried a black 9mm handgun, authorities say.

They eyed a Mazda parked in the same driveway. Cruz stuck his pistol in the stomach of the homeowner and demanded the keys, authorities say. The man did not have them, and Cruz could not find them when he rummaged through the man's pockets.

According to prosecutors, Paz yelled at the driver of a passing Ford Ranger to stop, then opened fire with his shotgun. The birdshot struck the windshield, injuring the driver and passenger. But the Ford kept going.

Authorities say Paz and Cruz next eyed a parked Chevrolet Silverado. Paz fired his shotgun in the air and Cruz, his handgun showing, ordered the passenger to get out of the vehicle.

The Chevy, with Paz at the wheel, then led police on a hot pursuit down N.C. 16. Along the way, authorities say, Cruz took apart his handgun and threw the pieces from the speeding pickup. When the chase crossed into Catawba County, Paz lost control of the Silverado and crashed into a power pole.

Cruz was quickly arrested. But Paz apparently had no plans to surrender. He left the truck still holding the shotgun, then pointed it at the surrounding police. Three CMPD officers opened fire. Though wounded, Paz still struggled throughout his arrest, authorities say.

In November, he pleaded guilty to carjacking and firearms offenses. A Mecklenburg County Jail mugshot shows the smiling defendant with a medical device attached to the right side of his face. On Tuesday, he stood before a judge and received his sentence.

Both Paz and Cruz face deportation once they complete their prison time.

Michael Gordon: 704-358-5095; @MikeGordonOBS
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