Vehicle Chase That Started in Downey Leads to Shootout in Vernon

VERNON (CNS) - A police chase believed to have started in Downey ended in Vernon today with an exchange of gunfire between law enforcement officers and a passenger -- believed to be a murder suspect who shot and killed a liquor store co-owner.

It was not immediately clear exactly where the chase began, although it originated with Downey police pursuing a dark-colored Toyota Prius with two people inside. At the onset of the pursuit, officers reported from the scene that the passenger in the car was a murder suspect.

During the wild pursuit that went north on the Long Beach (710) Freeway then on streets in Commerce and Vernon, the passenger in the Toyota leaned out of the car's window and fired at pursuing officers and even appeared to shoot at a sheriff's department helicopter.

The vehicle came to a stop in traffic at about 2:45 p.m. in the area of Bandini Boulevard and Downey Road, where the male passenger in the Prius again began firing at officers, who returned fire, shattering windows on the car.

No law enforcement officers appeared to have been injured in the shooting.

The female driver of the Prius got out and surrendered a short time later. She appeared to have blood on her, but it wasn't clear if any of it was hers.

The passenger remained in the car, with officers and more than a dozen cruisers positioned behind.

About 3:20 p.m., sheriff's armored vehicles, called Bearcats, arrived at the scene. Two of the vehicles boxed in the Prius.

Images from the scene appeared to show the suspect lying motionless in the passenger seat.

A bomb squad robot was later sent in to get a closer look and deploy tear gas or a flash-bang device, but the suspect remained inside.

A police dog was sent into the Prius' open driver-side door about 4:30 p.m., with minimal reaction from the suspect.

The K-9 was pulled out and sheriff's Special Enforcement Bureau deputies approached the vehicle and dragged the suspect, who was not moving, from the car.

He was then placed into an ambulance and taken from the scene in unknown condition.

Afterward, police confirmed the man was suspected of being the gunman who killed a Downey liquor store co-owner on Tuesday night during a possible robbery attempt.

That shooting at ASL Liquor and Market in the 8500 block of Paramount Boulevard, killed 44-year-old Gurpreet Singh, of Cerritos. Police on Thursday released surveillance video and photos of the shooting suspect, who wielded a long-barreled handgun that appeared strikingly similar to the one used by the passenger in Friday's pursuit.

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