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Body Is Found in Car After Police Pursuit

Fontana chase ends with an officer shooting the driver, who had held a woman at gunpoint, authorities say. Man in vehicle was slain earlier.

June 03, 2003|Lance Pugmire | Times Staff Writer

Fontana police Sunday night found a body in the back seat of a car driven by a man who they say led officers on a 2-mile high-speed chase and, after shooting at police and crashing his car, held a female passenger at gunpoint.

The driver, Augustine Villegas, 21, of Colton, was shot by police during the brief standoff and the woman escaped unharmed. Villegas was arrested on suspicion of murder, attempted murder on a police officer and evading arrest after the late-night pursuit on Foothill Boulevard in Fontana, police said Monday.

The dead person was identified as Daniel Perez Jr., 24, of Colton, who apparently died after being shot in the upper torso, police said. Villegas is the main suspect in the slaying, a law enforcement source said. Villegas was being treated at Arrowhead Regional Medical Center in Colton on Monday, police said.

Fontana police spokesman Mark Weissman said Perez apparently died earlier Sunday evening, according to early findings in the investigation, which included an interview with the vehicle's passenger. The woman was not identified by police, and she was released after being questioned.

A Fontana officer tried to stop a Dodge Neon driven by Villegas near Foothill Boulevard and Laurel Avenue at 10:39 p.m. Sunday, Weissman said. The vehicle was suspicious because it was idling behind a business building with its lights off and passengers inside.

Villegas allegedly sped away, prompting a pursuit on Foothill Boulevard that was joined by at least three other Fontana police cars. Villegas allegedly fired a gun at the first pursuing officer, Weissman said.

Villegas' car struck two other vehicles before crashing. No motorists or officers were injured during the pursuit, police said.

Police said Villegas took the female passenger out of the car and held her at gunpoint.

One of the officers shot and wounded Villegas. Police held the passenger and had Villegas taken to the hospital, Weissman said.

The San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department will investigate the shooting and Perez's death because the Fontana officer wounded Villegas. Fontana police also investigate all officer-involved shootings, Weissman said. The officers involved were not identified Monday.

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