A Sylmar tow-truck driver with an apparent affinity for living up to his name chased a Pacoima man along the Foothill Freeway on Sunday morning after the man allegedly pistol-whipped another motorist during a traffic dispute, fired two shots and fled.
After a 15-minute pursuit by Chuck Chase, 34, police arrested Theodore Edmund, 33, on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon, said Los Angeles police Sgt. Ken Dionne.
The incident marked the second time in two months that Chase, a driver for Larry's Valley Automotive & Towing in Mission Hills, has assisted authorities by setting out after wayward motorists.
Sunday's pursuit, which began on Foothill Boulevard in Sylmar, reached speeds of up to 100 m.p.h., police said. Chase radioed authorities during the pursuit, and police intercepted Edmund without incident as he left the Foothill Freeway at Paxton Street in Pacoima, Dionne said.
Police said the dispute between Edmund and Daniel Mullen Jr., 34, of Sylmar erupted after Mullen swerved to miss a dog and crashed his pickup truck into Edmund's BMW. The car was parked in front of an apartment complex along the 14000 block of Foothill Boulevard.
Mullen said he walked to a nearby telephone to call the police and a tow truck for his car. When he returned, Edmund had come out of the apartment, became "aggressive and boisterous," then stalked back into the apartment and returned with a revolver, police said.
After pointing the gun at Mullen, Edmund fired a shot into the air, witnesses said, then struck Mullen in the back of the head with the revolver, causing the gun to fire a second shot. No one was hit by the bullets, Dionne said.
Moments after the shots rang out, Chase arrived and was met by the bleeding and dazed Mullen.
"He comes up to me and says, 'I think I just got shot in the back of my head,' " Chase said. "And so he pointed the guy out and the guy walked into his apartment then came back out and got into another car."
As the car drove away down Foothill Boulevard, Chase set off in pursuit.
Mullen was later taken to Holy Cross Hospital, where he was treated for head cuts, Dionne said.
Edmund was released on $12,000 bail. No gun was found in Edmund's car, Dionne said. Meanwhile, Chase's wife, Deborah, and two of their six sons were monitoring the action from the family's police scanner at home.
"It was really something," his wife said later. "I was sitting at home . . . and heard something about a gun . . . I was scared to death."
Chase said she regularly tunes into her husband's tow calls "because I worry about him, there's so much going on out there at night."
Chase also came to the aid of police Aug. 22. At about 3 a.m., Chase said he happened upon an accident seconds after it occurred on the northbound Golden State Freeway at Van Nuys Boulevard.
A speeding motorcyclist had smashed into the bed of a slower-moving pickup truck. Chase, who witnessed the crash, said he immediately blocked a lane of freeway traffic in an effort to protect the downed motorcyclist.
But just as a California Highway Patrol officer rolled to the accident, an unobservant motorist slipped past Chase and ran over the accident victim, who authorities believed was already dead.
"And then the guy didn't stop, so I just jumped in my truck and took off after him," Chase recalled.
Chase said he followed the driver home, wrote down the man's license number and reported him.