A motorist who allegedly struck a person riding a scooter in Playa del Rey and led police on a nearly three-hour pursuit that stretched to San Diego County was hospitalized Friday, police said.
Following Thursday’s chase, suspect Karl Flores, 34, stopped his car on the San Diego (5) Freeway near Oceanside and refused to come out until a police dog bit him in the abdomen and an officer fired two bean bag rounds, one hitting him in the face and the other in the stomach, California Highway Patrol Officer Mark Latulippe said.
Police declined to comment on the nature of Flores’ hospitalization but said he would be arrested upon release for suspicion of felony hit-and-run.
The chase began around 10:50 a.m. Thursday near Sepulveda and Washington boulevards in Culver City, where police tried to pull over the suspect and his damaged red Honda Civic for vehicle code violations, according to Culver City Police Department Lt. Troy Dunlap. The vehicle had a broken rear window, Dunlap said.
Culver City police pursued the suspect initially, but broke off the chase before being informed minutes later by Los Angeles police that the suspect had struck a person on a motorized scooter in the Playa del Rey area, Dunlap said. Culver City police then re-entered the chase, and Los Angeles police eventually took over the pursuit.
Los Angeles Fire Department officials said the scooter rider who was struck in the 7800 block of West Manchester Avenue was taken to a hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. The impact, however, smashed the front windshield of the suspect’s car.
The chase continued at relatively slow speeds on Westchester-area streets. Police said they tried four times to stop the vehicle using PIT maneuvers, each time spinning the car around, but Flores was able to drive away and elude capture. The Honda lost a rear bumper during the fourth PIT maneuver.
After the final PIT attempt, the suspect picked up speed and got on the southbound San Diego (405) Freeway, driving through Orange County and into San Diego County near Oceanside, where the car pulled to a stop alongside Interstate 5 around 1:30 p.m. — apparently after running out of gas.
Despite coming to a stop, the suspect refused to immediately come out of the vehicle, although he opened the car door at least twice.
“The driver occasionally rolled the window down, exhibited rude hand gestures, partially came out of the vehicle, and yelled obscenities at the officers,” Latulippe said.
Around 2:15 p.m., the suspect opened the door and partially stepped out. The dog and bean bag rounds were used to subdue him, Latulippe said.
Officers swarmed the car and took the suspect — identified by the California Highway Patrol as Flores — into custody. Flores’ hometown was not immediately available.
The driver’s wife told police that Flores suffers from possible PTSD issues from prior military service.
The president of the Islamic Society of Inglewood, Javed Bava, told CBS2 Flores was a recent convert to Islam and had not been regularly seen at the mosque for most of the past two years, but showed up on New Year’s Day and fought with an employee, then returned to the mosque the day of the pursuit and confronted members.
“He said `You’re all going to go to hell,”’ Bava said. “He openly said that to everybody.”
Bava went on to say he’s worried about the day Flores is released from custody.
“I’m not always there (at the mosque), but the community is there,” Bava said.
Bava told CBS2 Flores had recently been evicted, his wife left him with their children, and Flores’ relatives had tried to get him help for PTSD.
The standoff on the San Diego Freeway near Oceanside prompted closure of the adjacent stretch of southbound Interstate 5, stranding thousands of motorists.