FULLERTON (CNS) - A man wanted in three drive-by shootings, two deadly, between USC and downtown Los Angeles today led police on a pursuit that ended when his SUV was boxed in by law enforcement vehicles on the westbound Riverside (91) Freeway in Fullerton, where he died after opening fire on officers who returned fire, authorities said.
Officers in police vehicles blocked in the white Jeep Cherokee around 4 a.m. near Raymond Avenue, according to Lt. Raul Jovel of the Los Angeles Police Department. The name of the suspect, who was in his late 40s or early 50s, was withheld, pending notification of his relatives.
The suspect shot three men, two fatally, early Tuesday morning, Jovel said.
“These appear to be random acts of violence ... we have no idea what precipitated this,'' Jovel said at a news conference near where the pursuit ended. “We'll be going back to the suspect's home, talking to family members, trying to figure out what led to these acts of violence.''
The sequence of events began about 1 a.m., when a man was shot and wounded in the downtown Los Angeles area, Jovel said. The wounded man, who is expected to survive, gave authorities a description of the suspect's vehicle, Jovel said.
About 25 minutes later, a man was shot and killed while sitting in his car near Figueroa and 28th streets, according to Jovel. Family members told reporters at the scene that the victim, a 25-year-old newlywed, was in a drive-thru line at Starbucks with his wife, who wasn't injured.
“About 15, 20 minutes later, there was another male that was shot near the area of Seventh and Figueroa (streets),'' Jovel said. That man died, Jovel said. KTLA5 reported that the victim was in a black Cadillac Escalade and was an Uber driver who was stopped at a red light.
“The officers quickly discovered that it was the same shooting suspect description -- a male in a white Cherokee,'' Jovel said. “That information was immediately put out ... to all patrol units.''
Patrolling officers saw the vehicle and began chasing it about 1:45 a.m., Jovel said.
The pursuit, often at slow speeds, traveled along the Pomona (60) and Orange (57) freeways before coming to an end at about 4 a.m. on the westbound 91 Freeway at the Raymond Avenue overcrossing, where officers deployed spike strips, damaging the SUV's tires and forcing it to stop.
Two law enforcement vehicles boxed in the suspect's SUV and a standoff ensued.
“SWAT officers arrived, and they initiated the normal procedures to negotiate with the suspect,'' Jovel said. “They attempted to talk to him several times. At one point, they tried to have the suspect talk to a family member. That was unsuccessful.''
Jovel said officers had used information from the SUV's license plates and went to the home of the registered owner, where a family member of the suspect was contacted.
“At one point, the suspect fired at the officers, (which) resulted in an officer-involved shooting,'' Jovel said. “The suspect was hit by gunfire and was pronounced dead at the scene by the local fire department.''
Jovel said it was not known why the suspect shot the victims. The names of the victims were withheld, pending notification of their relatives.
Both directions of the 91 Freeway through Fullerton between Raymond Avenue and East Street were closed while an investigation was conducted, creating a major traffic tie-up during the morning rush hour. The eastbound freeway was reopened at about 9 a.m., but the westbound lanes remained closed.
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