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Biker starts trial for post-fire police chase
September 14, 2012, 05:00 AM By Michelle Durand Daily Journal Staff Report

Paul Lee

The convicted attempted kidnapper whose high-speed chase with San Bruno police down the Peninsula was the first case linked to the deadly fire that destroyed the Glenview neighborhood two years ago began trial this week on assault and evasion charges.

Authorities could never say for certain if Paul Anthony Lee, 36,  was in the vicinity of the Sept. 9, 2010 blaze only hours after it erupted in hopes of looting or any intent other than gawking. After his arrest for evading and ultimately running over an officer’s foot, Lee reportedly told the officers he had fled out of fear because of previous convictions.

In any case, Lee this week is facing trial on charges that, as a second-striker, could carry more than 11 years in prison, according to the District Attorney’s Office.

According to prosecutors, a San Bruno police officer and a gang enforcement officer spotted Lee driving a motorcycle with a female passenger near the edge of the fire scene on Sept. 10, 2010. Lee allegedly told the officers he was riding around, looking at the remains and, when asked to dismount the bike, instead sped away.

One officer grabbed Lee’s jacket and was reportedly dragged several feet before Lee drove over his foot and sped up to 60 mph through the city to Highway 101. The chase ended in San Carlos when the motorcycle died and Lee was arrested for reckless evading, assault on a peace officer and related charges of assault with a deadly weapon and battery on a peace officer in performance of duties.

After Lee’s arrest, several other cases linked to the San Bruno explosion and fire were filed but those involved alleged fraud to obtain aid instead of altercations with the law enforcement members charged with security of the site.

Lee is currently on parole, having been sent to prison in 2003 for possession of a controlled substance and a firearm, in 2005 for attempted kidnapping and in 2009 for possession of methamphetamine. During pretrial motions Tuesday, Judge Lisa Novak ruled that Lee can be impeached with his prior felony conviction for attempted kidnapping if he chooses to testify. In that case, Lee was also accused of leading police on a high-speed chase after snatching a former girlfriend in front of her family.

Lee is free from custody on a $100,000 property bond.


Michelle Durand can be reached by email: or by phone: (650) 344-5200 ext. 102.

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