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Ventura County

Suspect Captured After Chase

Police: The armed man, who is wanted on suspicion of murder, leads officers on a wild ride to Ventura.

July 01, 2002|TIMOTHY HUGHES | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Firing shots at pursuing officers, a man wanted on suspicion of murder led authorities on a wild chase that zigzagged across several Ventura County freeways Sunday night, ending with his arrest at an equipment yard on Ventura's west side.

After an hourlong standoff, the suspect, who was not immediately identified, was taken into custody by sheriff's deputies just after 9:30 p.m.

Officers with the California Highway Patrol, the Sheriff's Department and the Ventura Police Department took part in the chase, which began just before 7 p.m. on California 150 in Ojai. It ended when the suspect was blocked in by pursuing officers at a dead-end near Seneca Street and Ventura Avenue.

CHP officers shut down California 33 between the southbound junction with the Ventura Freeway and the Shell Road offramp about 8:45 p.m..

Officers rerouted traffic onto Ventura Avenue as the suspect sat in a white Lincoln Continental smoking a cigarette and drinking what appeared to be alcohol. Few details were available about the suspect, who was allegedly carrying two stolen handguns, one a .357 magnum and the other a .45.

Sheriff's deputies began the chase in Ojai and continued their pursuit south on California 33 and onto the southbound Ventura Freeway. The suspect then turned eastbound on California 126, attempting a series of dangerous maneuvers and firing a handgun at pursuing officers, authorities said.

CHP officers put down spike strips at several locations on California 126 and also in the northbound lanes of the Ventura Freeway at the Mussel Shoals offramp. Twice, as the suspect was heading in the direction of the spike strips, he abruptly changed routes and headed in the opposite direction.

Pursuing officers reported hearing shots fired from the vehicle as it headed eastbound on California 126 near Wells Road. At one point, the suspect drove the wrong way in a westbound stretch of California 126 between Kimball and Wells roads as motorists swerved to avoid a head-on crash.

Entering the Ventura Freeway, the suspect slowed to about 25 mph as officers cleared the freeway in both directions.

The driver then headed northbound on the Ventura Freeway, weaving across three lanes before making a U-turn on a dirt divider at the Padre Juan overpass just before the Mussel Shoals spike strip.

The pursuit ended when the suspect exited California 33 at Stanley Road and hit a dead end. Sheriff's deputies shot out the car's tires as it sat parked next to a Quonset hut on the equipment yard property.

With sheriff's SWAT team officers pointing high-powered rifles at him and helicopters hovering overhead, the suspect emerged from his car and paced back and forth briefly before surrendering. Residents of the neighborhood watched from their windows as the scene unfolded.

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