A man was arrested and a suspected accomplice was being sought Tuesday after the victim of an auto theft narrowly escaped gunshots while chasing his stolen pickup truck on the 91 Freeway, authorities said.
The victim, Jay Hubatch of Lakewood, was lucky to have come out of the ordeal unhurt, said Deputy Oscar Butao, who cautioned against crime-stopping attempts by private citizens.
"That's a very dangerous thing to engage in," Butao said. "We ask the public to be a good witness and give us a call and let us do what we're trained to do."
Seconds after the gunfire, the pickup went out of control and overturned just west of the 605 Freeway about 7 a.m., snarling commuter traffic.
Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies arrested Adrian Palomino, 19, who suffered minor injuries in the crash. He was booked on suspicion of vehicle theft and was being held in lieu of $30,000 bail, authorities said.
Butao said Hubatch saw his truck being stolen from his home and gave chase in his wife's car. Hubatch called 911 on his cellphone as he followed the truck onto the eastbound 91 Freeway, Butao said.
Suddenly, another vehicle behind the stolen pickup stopped on the freeway and the driver fired three shots at Hubatch, who had been unaware of an accomplice, Butao said. The shots missed Hubatch, but a bullet struck one of his rear-view mirrors.
As the shaken Hubatch tried to maneuver out of the line of fire, the stolen pickup skidded and flipped over, Butao said. The suspected thief apparently panicked when he heard the gunfire and lost control of the vehicle, he said.
Deputies arrived on the scene just as the truck crashed and arrested Palomino, Butao said.