Fresno County Politician Accused of Mowing Down, Murdering Critic
A member of a community services district board in Fresno County is accused of killing a man and hit and run.
The Fresno County Sheriff’s Office arested Rolando Sanchez, 54 of Del Rey, saying he struck 48-year old Jaime Loza, a pedestrian — also from Del Rey — with his car on March 16 around 7 p.m. at the intersection of Carmel and Morro avenues in Del Rey. Investigators say Sanchez left the scene. Loza died five days later on March 21.
Sanchez is a board member of the Del Rey CSD, an elected body that sets utility policies in the Del Rey area.
“Deputies were unable to locate the driver and vehicle responsible for the crash at the scene. However, they developed information of a possible vehicle involved and this being an intentional act,” a sheriff’s news release said.
A department spokesman did not elaborate on why detectives thought the act was intentional.
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Sanchez Is in Fresno County Jail
The sheriff’s office sought a black Chevy Tahoe suspected in the hit-and-run. They found Sanchez driving a vehicle fitting the description the following day and arrested him after a traffic stop.
Sanchez remains in jail as of Friday morning. He appeared in court for an arraignment on March 22 but did not enter a plea. The court docket shows he is charged with one count of attempted murder, but that may change with Loza’s death.
Loza frequently attended meetings of the Fresno County Board of Supervisors, offering public comment. At one time, Loza shared videos on social media, criticizing law enforcement.
Sanchez attended a meeting of the Del Rey CSD, which was scheduled to start at 7 p.m., on the same evening of the alleged incident. The location of the vehicle collision is about one block away from the district office where the meeting took place.
Jaime Loza spoke to the Fresno County Board of Supervisors on Jan. 24, 2023. (Screenshot)
Colleagues: Surprised at Arrest
“My condolences to the family of both sides,” District manager Carlos Arias told GV Wire. “I don’t know what else to say.”
Neither Arias nor fellow board member Daniel Ramirez noticed anything out of ordinary at the March 16 meeting. Neither witnessed the collision.
“It’s very surprising. He’s come a long way, Rolando. He’s a very gentle person,” Ramirez, the board vice president, told GV Wire. “I can’t judge because I’m not a cop. I’m not a DA … I’m not investigating. I just heard that. I’m just praying for him. I’m praying for both the victim and (Sanchez).”
Ramirez does not believe Sanchez could be capable of homicide.
“He’s a very nice guy. I mean, he’s polite. I’ve never seen him violent,” Ramirez said.
Ramirez said he knew Loza, describing him as “a violent, very angry man.”
Sanchez was appointed to the board in December 2020 by the Fresno County Board of Supervisors by a 5-0 vote to fill a vacancy. His seat is up for re-election in November 2024.