A SWAT deputy said Wednesday his “father instincts” kicked in when a girl ran from her mother’s car after a dangerous high-speed pursuit and standoff in Diamond Bar, leading him to run to the child and take her to safety.
“We had no knowledge that a child was in the car,” said Special Enforcement Bureau Deputy Darell Edwards. The father of three told reporters he wanted to `physically take care of her, let her know it was OK.”
The 9-year-old girl was crying and “she asked for water,” Edwards said.
The youngster’s release followed a high-speed pursuit that started near the Walnut-Diamond Bar sheriff’s station, went into the Inland Empire and back to Diamond Bar, followed by a nearly three-hour standoff with deputies after the car became disabled. The SWAT team eventually fired tear gas into the car to get the girl’s mother, 30-year-old Margaret Hassan of Pomona, to surrender.
Hassan was booked on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon, child endangerment and felony evading, and was being held on $130,000 bail, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department reported.
Her daughter was taken to a hospital for a precautionary medical examination, and was released to the custody of the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services.
The ordeal began with a hit-and-run crash about 3:20 p.m. Tuesday near the Walnut-Diamond Bar Sheriff’s Station at 21695 Valley Blvd. in Walnut, according to Deputy Trina Schrader of the Sheriff’s Information Bureau.
“The pursuit stemmed from the female suspect (Hassan) becoming involved in a road rage incident with another motorist on the road, which transpired into the suspect using her vehicle as a weapon against the other motorist,” Schrader alleged.
“Deputies were flagged down by the motorist who had repeatedly and intentionally been rear-ended by the suspect vehicle,” Schrader said. “Deputies attempted to contact the suspect, at which time she fled from them in her vehicle.”
A sheriff’s sergeant was involved in a crash while trying to take command of the pursuit, Schrader said. The sergeant was taken to a hospital for treatment of non-life-threatening injuries and later released.
The suspect led deputies through Ontario, Chino Hills and Chino before turning back to Diamond Bar. During the televised chase, the driver could be seen using the battered sedan, its bumper dragging, to push other vehicles out of the way, driving between stopped vehicles and on the wrong side of busy streets.
While speeding on El Prado Road in Chino, the suspect was seen narrowly missing head-on collisions with at least three vehicles while driving on the wrong side of the street.
The car became disabled on Diamond Bar Boulevard between Palomino Drive and the Pomona (60) Freeway after rear-ending another vehicle, and deputies surrounded it. They fired at least a dozen bean bag-type rounds into the car to try to break the tinted windows so they could see inside, then waited for the arrival of the sheriff’s SWAT team with crisis negotiators and armored vehicles.
At about 7 p.m., with armored vehicles surrounding three sides of the car, tear gas was fired into the vehicle.
“After introducing a gas agent, and to the surprise of all personnel, an unknown female child exited the rear of the vehicle and was brought to safety in the arms of an SEB deputy,” Schrader said. “Shortly thereafter, the female suspect was removed from the vehicle and taken into custody without further incident.”
Sheriff Alex Villanueva tweeted about the incident Tuesday night, writing: “Thankfully @SEBLASD ended this tense situation with a peaceful resolution. Our deputies did not know there was a child in the car. The child is now safe, and the suspect is in custody. Bringing this barricade situation to an end and restoring order to our community.”
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