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Police Kill Suspect After Freeway Chase

July 03, 2002|CAROL CHAMBERS | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Throwing money out the windows, four robbery suspects led police on an hourlong chase Tuesday that ended when their SUV caught fire in Pacoima and one suspect was fatally shot as he emerged pointing a gun at police, authorities said.

The Golden State Freeway was shut down in both directions at 6:35 p.m. and remained closed hours later except for two southbound lanes, backing up traffic for miles.

About 5:30 p.m., two men walked into Public Storage on Firestone Place in South Gate, pointing guns and taking about $2,500 and the tape from the surveillance camera, South Gate Police Lt. Bill Richert said.

As the men fled in a GMC Jimmy, a witness followed them, flagging sheriff's deputies at Somerset and Paramount boulevards, who picked up the chase. One of the robbers fired at the witness as he chased them, Richert said

The SUV clipped several cars and mowed down a street sign in downtown Los Angeles.

As they fled north on the freeway, the suspects threw money out the windows. But just north of the Ronald Reagan Freeway, the car stalled, its left rear tire ground to metal, which sparked a fire. For several seconds, the men remained in the burning car, then ran as they raised their hands in surrender.

One man pointed a gun at officers as he got out and was shot to death, said California Highway Patrol Chief Gary Eberhard.

"The car was on fire and they weren't getting out of the car, and I heard all these pops," said Yoran Schechter, 42, of Agua Dulce, who was on the freeway. "I thought maybe it was the tires blowing, and then I realized it was gunshots and I tried to stay as far away as I could."

As the remaining suspects lay on the asphalt, wind blew money across the freeway. Officers later found most of it.

The names of the suspects have not been released. Police said two of those who survived are juveniles.

None of the employees at Public Storage was hurt, but a pregnant worker was hospitalized as a precautionary measure, Richert said.

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