A man who led authorities on a pursuit through the Compton area while inhaling an unknown substance from a balloon was cornered by deputies near a flood control channel, sparking a more than four-hour standoff that eventually ended with the suspect’s surrender.
The chase began early Thursday afternoon when deputies responded to reports of a motorist in a white pickup doing “doughnuts” in the street, according to the sheriff’s department. Deputies saw the motorist inhaling the substance from a tank inside the vehicle and attempted to pull him over, but the driver fled.
The driver led deputies on a pursuit through the Compton area, circling through residential and commercial areas. Deputies tried to force the pickup to stop with multiple PIT maneuvers, to no avail. All during the pursuit, the driver could be seen inhaling from a white balloon.
At one point, the motorist sideswiped a sheriff’s SUV.
The chase ended in the area of Poplar Street and Wilmington Avenue, where the pickup came to a stop about 1 p.m. a few feet from the wash, pinned in from behind by law enforcement vehicles.
Deputies fired multiple pepper balls into the cab of the pickup, breaking a portion of the rear window, but the driver refused to the exit the vehicle.
After a few minutes, the man tried to back into the law enforcement vehicles, but could not get away, spinning the tires of the pickup and sending a plume of smoke into the air. The deputies later tossed a gas container into the cab of that pickup, but the standoff continued. The suspect occasionally stuck his head out of the driver’s side window, hoping to escape the effects of the gas, but whenever deputies tried to approach, he would roll up the window, and deputies backed off.
At around 2 p.m., deputies began asking residents in nearby homes to evacuate as the standoff lingered. By 3 p.m., deputies in an armored vehicle arrived on the scene, followed by a second about an hour later. The suspect appeared unphased, sitting calmly in the driver’s seat with a blue tank — possibly containing nitrous or helium — in his lap.
The suspect finally exited the vehicle and was taken into custody around 5:25 p.m. His name was not immediately released.
No injuries were immediately reported.