Man hanging out car window fires gun with officers in LA pursuit

Posted at 3:52 PM, May 11, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-11 18:53:11-04

A murder suspect who was shot by police after firing at officers during a police chase near Los Angeles was in surgery Friday night, authorities said.

No police officers or sheriff’s deputies were wounded. Friday’s pursuit and shootings happened after a man suspected of killing a man in Downey during an attempted robbery earlier this week was spotted in Maywood, police said.

During the chase on streets and at least one freeway, the murder suspect, who has not been identified and was a passenger in the Toyota Prius, leaned out a window and fired a large-caliber revolver at officers, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Derrick Alfred said Friday night at a news conference.

“Multiple times the suspect hung out of the window, the suspect fired rounds at the pursuing officers and deputies,” Alfred said. He said that two Downey police vehicles were struck but that no officers were hurt. Officers did not return fire during the chase, Alfred said.

Law enforcement officers returned fire at the end of the relatively short pursuit, which ended in an industrial area southeast of downtown L.A.

During the pursuit, an NBC Los Angeles aerial camera showed a male passenger in the Prius leaning out the window and firing with the large, silver handgun as motorists were caught between authorities and the gunman.

The Toyota Prius stopped at an intersection, and the woman who was driving surrendered after the gunfire subsided. The shooter remained in the car, prompting a nearly two-hour standoff carried live on local television.

At least two Downey officers and four Los Angeles sheriff’s deputies fired their weapons, Alfred said. The suspect was thought to have been struck multiple times and was in unknown condition late Friday night, according to officials.

“This suspect has shown clearly that he had complete disregard for the safety of anybody on the roadways today, as he was hanging out the side of a car speeding along the freeway and the surface streets firing a large-caliber revolver into, you know, all over the place,” Alfred said.

The driver was also struck by gunfire and taken to a hospital with non-life-threatening injuries, Alfred said. Investigators are trying to determine what her involvement was, he said.

“We believe we know the relationship” between the two, he said, but did not comment further.

At least one bystander, who was in a pickup and downrange of the shooting, was grazed by a bullet, Alfred said. It was not clear whether that person was struck by law enforcement or the suspect.

“It was very scary,” a driver stopped on Bandini Boulevard told NBC Los Angeles. “People were shooting around me. I didn’t know what was going on.”

Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department SWAT team members appeared to use stun grenades to roust the unresponsive suspect, but after sending in a police dog and creeping up behind the Prius by using the cover of an armored vehicle, deputies extracted the man.

Downey police Lt. Kathleen Mendoza said police were in Maywood, near Downey, on Friday investigating the fatal Tuesday night shooting of a convenience store co-owner in what is thought to be an attempted robbery when they saw a man matching the description of the suspect outside a residence.

He got into a vehicle, and the pursuit began after officers attempted to stop that car, she said. Alfred said sheriff’s deputies responded to the call for assistance on the pursuit around 2:30 p.m.

Alfred said it was fortunate that the pursuit ended in Vernon because it is an industrial area, but he said it must have been “horrific” for the motorists stopped at the traffic light.

“The person making the decision in this was the suspect and the driver, and they could have led this anywhere — this is one you’re not going to let go. He has to be stopped,” he said. “… We believe that he has already murdered one person, and we don’t know what this person is capable of.”

“It’s unfortunate that somebody was injured, but things could have been a lot worse,” Alfred said. “We’re just glad that it turned out the way it did.”

The suspected shooter could face charges of attempted murder on a peace officer and felony evading, Alfred said, but he said the district attorney would make that decision.