LOS ANGELES (CNS) - A driver was arrested in Ontario this morning after leading police on a more than six-hour chase that turned into a crawl from South Los Angeles to San Pedro, downtown Los Angeles and the San Fernando and San Gabriel valleys and into the Inland Empire.
The driver was taken into custody about 1:30 a.m. on the eastbound San Bernardino (10) Freeway near the Vineyard Avenue exit after the front driver-side rim of the silver Chevy Malibu he was driving fell off and sent sparks flying.
Los Angeles Police Department Sgt. Juan Garcia said that, in his 20 years with the department, he never heard of pursuit going on for so long -- and added that many officers had to pull out of the pursuit at various times to gas up their vehicles using their own money.
Officers from the Los Angeles Police Department's 77th Street Division gang unit began chasing the driver, who was accused of having a gun, near 65th Street and Vermont Avenue about 7 p.m. Tuesday, according to the Los Angeles Police Department.
Multiple patrol vehicles chased the sedan as the driver ran red lights, drove on the wrong side of traffic and cut through parking lots to make turns.
About 7:45 p.m., the driver entered onto the southbound Harbor (110) Freeway from westbound Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard, and traveled to where the freeway ends in San Pedro before making a U-turn and heading back north.
NBC4 reported the driver was acting erratically inside the car, and at times appeared to be talking on a cellphone while inching along the northbound Harbor Freeway at speeds under 10 mph.
At one point, the pursuit passed a rubbish fire that was burning near the freeway at West 81st Street and South Grand Avenue in South Los Angeles, according to the Los Angeles Fire Department.
Multiple police cruisers were blocking traffic from passing the pursuit as they followed the driver, who would slow to a near-stop, then accelerate again.
Just after 9 p.m., the driver exited the Harbor Freeway and entered onto the northbound Hollywood (101) Freeway near downtown, where the chase continued.
The driver traveled north toward the San Fernando Valley before exiting the freeway, making a U-turn and getting back on the northbound Hollywood Freeway.
Officers continued their pursuit of the driver, who turned southbound on the Hollywood Freeway, then transitioned to the eastbound San Bernardino Freeway in East Los Angeles and began traveling slowly, dropping to speeds below 10 mph for long stretches.
Multiple broadcast reports said the driver hit a spike strip at some point in the chase, blowing out the two front tires of the Malibu.
Throughout the final three hours of the chase, the driver slowed to a stop several times on the San Bernardino Freeway in the San Gabriel Valley, allowing officers to briefly get out of their cruisers before the suspect continued to move along at a slow pace, at one point passing through a Caltrans construction zone near Via Verde in Covina.
Officers did not use a PIT maneuver to end the chase because department policy prohibits the use of the technique if a suspect is possibly armed, Garcia told NBC4 Wednesday morning. Garcia added the vehicle may have been used in a shooting in Newton division.
Just after 1 a.m., the rim of the driver-side wheel disintegrated and sparks began flying. Moments later, the driver stopped the vehicle, but remained inside.
About 1:15 a.m., the driver exited the car and stood in lanes of the freeway while officers shouted orders to him, as the suspect raised and lowered his hands.
The suspect was taken into custody without incident about 1:30 a.m. His name was not immediately released.
As the pursuit moved through the San Gabriel Valley, residents came out of their homes to take up positions on overpasses and along streets bordering the freeway to watch the pursuit pass by.
At one point, someone stopped on the side of the freeway produced a sign that read, “Fools gone wild,'' ABC7 reported.
In Ontario, California Highway Patrol officers began moving people who had stopped on the side of the freeway to catch a glimpse of the pursuit.
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