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Police seize man after 8-hour standoff in Westwood

The suspect, identified as Joseph Moshe, remained in his Volkswagen Beetle outside the Federal Building. Authorities alleged that he had threatened to blow up the White House.

August 14, 2009|Nicole Santa Cruz and Andrew Blankstein

A Westchester man who allegedly threatened to blow up the White House held police at bay for nearly eight hours Thursday as he sat parked in his car at the Federal Building in Westwood and was finally subdued when lawmen shattered a window, Tasered him and dragged him out of the vehicle.

The man, who authorities identified as Joseph Moshe, 56, of Westchester, initially fled from U.S. Secret Service agents who had attempted to arrest him near his home. Moshe fled in his bright red Volkswagen Beetle and parked in front of the Federal Building. Local and federal authorities feared at first that the car might contain explosives and boxed the vehicle in with police cruisers and an armored vehicle.

The Federal Building was locked down and hundreds of people were prevented from leaving the scene as the standoff wore on for hours.

The confrontation reached a climax when police used a robot to shatter a rear window and filled the car with tear gas repeatedly. Though officers expected Moshe to bail out of his car, he remained seated behind the steering wheel.

"Unfortunately to everyone's surprise, he didn't come out," said Det. Gus Villanueva of the Los Angeles Police Department.

Ultimately, officers shattered the driver's side window, Tasered Moshe and dragged him out of the vehicle. He was taken to a hospital for minor scrapes, Villanueva said.

Police had tried to negotiate with Moshe throughout the incident, but he refused to communicate.

Law enforcement sources who asked not to be identified because they were not authorized to speak about the case said Moshe appeared to have a mental illness.

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nicole.santacruz @latimes.com

andrew.blankstein @latimes.com

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