Last Thursday afternoon, Yasmín Mendoza, her husband, and their two children were at their family-owned business on Ukiah’s South State Street taking it slow before a number of clients were scheduled to arrive.
Around 3:33 p.m., the Ukiah Police attempted to pull Malique West-Colvin over in his 2016 Audi Q5 after allegedly watching him blow through stop signs going 40 mph in a residential area. West-Colvin had other plans speeding north on State Street to get away.
In the quiet office, the family unexpectedly felt their office jolt and shake, a startlingly loud crash on their building’s south-facing wall, and watched in disbelief as the front end of an Audi smashed clear through the wall.
The front office where their customers’ kids would have sat and watched movies was now a chaos of debris. The Audi’s impact had caused the building’s wall to explode inwards throwing window glass, stucco, insulation, joists, and beams everywhere. The wall also contained a gas line, requiring a firefighter to control it.
Mendoza and her family gathered in a back office making sure everyone were safe, not sure if this man that crashed into their store could have a gun.
The driver fled the scene on foot and remains at-large
The husband and wife duo owns and operates both the bridal store and the Mendoza Business Center on the intersection of South State Street and Gobbi Drive, a family endeavor that originally began over thirty years ago.
The Mendoza Business Center serves an important function in Ukiah’s Latino community. The husband and wife prepare taxes, cash checks for migrant farm workers, facilitate sending money to family in Mexico, and generally offer guidance to newcomers to Ukiah.
Normally, she and her husband would be busy helping clients prepare documents before the extended tax deadline on October 17, 2022.
Now, Mendoza said the business is basically closed. The customer entrance is destroyed and cordoned off with red and white tape that reads “Do Not Enter-Life Hazard”. The one entrance is a side door that goes through a staff kitchen.
Their waiting room, once full of customers’ children, is strewn with the aftermath of the collision. Mendoza wants to begin cleaning up the mess, but they have been told the area is unsafe. The mess must stay for now.
Mendoza and her family are still waiting on insurance support. The repairs will be significant requiring permits and inspections because the vehicle compromised the building’s structural integrity.
Yasmin Mendoza feels victimized by the man who drove the car into her business. Since it happened, she has played out all the danger that could have come to her children if they were struck by debris or shattered glass.
Mendoza told us that last Thursday’s incident felt like it was all part of a growing feeling the area around her business was not safe anymore. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the couple would work at the office after dark. Now, they go home before sunset or they will often hear unknown people testing the doors of their building, trying to get inside. The sidewalks, parking lots, and streets around her business have become host to homelessness and graffiti.
Mendoza and her family have worked for 30 years on that block supporting themselves and the greater community. Now, after a man fleeing police left her business in shambles, she is hoping for support but is not sure where to find it.
The incident allowed Yasmin to look at her work differently. A workplace is a community of people. When word got out to the community about what had happened, she received calls from all over offering help or checking in.
She expressed gratitude for the firefighters, police, and city employees that were there on Thursday and quickly secured the scene.
23-year-old Malique West-Colvin is actively being sought by Ukiah Police Department. If you have information about the suspect’s whereabouts, please contact Ukiah PD’s non-emergency line at 707-463-6262.