A man driving a pickup while inhaling an unknown substance from a balloon was chased by authorities in the Compton area Thursday before being cornered near a flood control channel, sparking a lengthy standoff.
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. The suspect appeared unphased, sitting calmly in the driver’s seat with a blue tank — possibly containing nitrous or helium — in his lap.
During the chase, the driver was repeatedly seen with a white balloon in his hand, inhaling from it. He apparently continued refilling the balloon with the blue tank as the chase went on.
The chase began when deputies tried to stop the motorist, believed to have been driving under the influence, somewhere in the Compton or Carson area, according to reports from the scene. Deputies tried to force the pickup to stop with multiple PIT maneuvers, to no avail.
At one point, the motorist sideswiped a sheriff’s SUV.
No injuries were immediately reported.