Photo by John Schreiber.
Photo by John Schreiber.

A 29-year-old man killed in a crash during a police chase in Anaheim was a suspect in the shooting death of his former girlfriend’s mother and apparently committed suicide by intentionally crashing his SUV, authorities said Tuesday.

The man, whose name was not released, is believed to have fatally shot Lahoma Ballester, 55, of Tustin about 7 p.m. Monday and then led authorities on the pursuit, according to the Orange County Sheriff’s Department.

“The suspect is known to Ballester, having had a previous relationship and child in common with her daughter,” sheriff’s Lt. Jeffrey Hallock said.

The suspect’s SUV struck a sound wall paralleling the eastbound lanes of the Riverside (91) Freeway around 9:25 p.m. Monday, according to a videographer at the scene.

The SUV careened into the sound wall and caught fire, Anaheim Police Lt. Bob Dunn said. The suspect was pronounced dead at the scene in the 500 block of North Rio Vista Street, Dunn said.

The chase was initiated by Santa Ana police officers after they were asked by the Orange County Sheriff’s Department to check out a murder suspect, Santa Ana police Cpl. Anthony Bertagna said. The individual matched the description, he said.

The chase began on the south side of Santa Ana and lasted about 10 minutes.

Homicide detectives had gone to the 18400 block of Warren Avenue Monday night on a report of a shooting, Hallock said.

“The victim — Lahoma Ballester, 55, of Tustin — was discovered near the front of the residence with a gunshot wound,” Hallock said. “Ballester was later pronounced deceased at a nearby hospital.

“During the course of the investigation, the Santa Ana Police Department initiated a pursuit of a white SUV vehicle believed to be related to the investigation,” Hallock said. “The pursuit terminated in the city of Anaheim with a fiery crash, killing the driver and sole occupant of the vehicle.

“Investigators believe the collision with the wall was intentional as the driver accelerated and failed to brake immediately prior to impact,” Hallock said. “The Coroner Division has yet to confirm the identity of the deceased driver, however, it is believed the driver is the suspect in the murder of Ballester.”

Authorities have yet to determine a motive for the shooting, Hallock said.

—City News Service

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