Kidnapping suspect escapes on foot, ending hours-long standoff in O.C.

A kidnapping suspect was still at large Tuesday morning after leading police on a winding pursuit across Orange County that ended in an hours-long standoff near a Newport Beach park the night before, authorities said.

The suspect's identity has not been released; he is a 35-year-old man with tattoos on both sides of his neck, said Officer Denise Quesada of the California Highway Patrol. He was last seen wearing a black hoodie, jeans and gray shoes.

All streets in the area are open, police said.

Shortly after 10 p.m., officers and a police dog chased the man after he ran from the SUV up a hillside near Castaways Park. The two young children and a woman who were held inside the suspect's Hummer during the pursuit and standoff were seen walking toward the throng of officers waiting nearby. Police later said they were unharmed.

During the standoff, the driver occasionally stepped out of the Hummer, clutching a young child as he faced law enforcement. Another child was seen craning his head out of the SUV’s sunroof.

Before the dramatic end to the standoff, which was partly recorded by television news cameras, a police negotiator had been speaking with the driver via cellphone, trying to coax him to release the two children and the woman, who police said was his girlfriend.

"We're negotiating," Lt. Al Martinez of the Huntington Park Police Department told The Times about 9:45 p.m. "We're trying to get him to surrender."

The case was initially reported to Huntington Park police as a restraining order violation with a possible kidnapping of the two "small children" and the suspect's girlfriend. Their identities were not released.

The chase began about 4:30 p.m. near Beach Boulevard and Commonwealth Avenue in Buena Park, according to Buena Park Police Sgt. Chris Nunez. Officers from Huntington Park, about 16 miles northwest in Los Angeles County, had asked Buena Park officers to check for the dark-colored Hummer, Nunez said.

After an officer spotted the large vehicle, the pursuit began.

"It appeared the driver noticed he was being followed right away," Nunez said. "He started attempting to evade."

From there, the pursuit took police into La Mirada, Norwalk and possibly other cities before the Hummer entered the 5 Freeway heading south, Nunez said.

Near Anaheim, the California Highway Patrol took over as the lead agency.

Officer Florentino Olivera of the CHP told KCBS-TV Channel 2 that it was "a kidnapping situation."

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On the southbound 5 Freeway, the driver occasionally veered onto the shoulder to dodge rush-hour traffic. Near Tustin, the driver turned onto the southbound 55 Freeway before heading onto the southbound 405 Freeway.

The driver left the 405 Freeway onto Jamboree Road, continuing south toward Irvine and Costa Mesa as CHP cruisers followed.

About 6 p.m., the driver was approaching the Newport Beach area, where fog from a heavy marine layer obscured the view of helicopters.

The driver stopped at Pacific Coast Highway and Jamboree Road in Newport Beach, then continued driving, later stopping by Newport Harbor High School. There he stayed for several hours.

Dover Drive from Pacific Coast Highway to East 16th Street was shut down, according to Newport Beach police.

Shortly after 10 p.m., the driver hopped out of the Hummer and eluded authorities. Olivera, the CHP officer, told the Orange County Register that the woman and children were unharmed.

Times Community News staffer Brittany Woolsey contributed to this report.

For breaking news in California, follow @MattHjourno.


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Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times


8:10 a.m.: This story was updated with details of the suspect.

11:45 p.m.: This story was updated with additional details about the end of the standoff.

9:34 p.m.: This story was updated with additional details about the start of the pursuit.

This story was originally published at 6:34 p.m.