Costa Mesa : Police Shoot Armed Man They Say Stole Two Cars

Costa Mesa police Sunday were investigating an incident in which a man allegedly commandeered a car, took it on the San Diego Freeway, crashed it into the center divider and then stopped a woman and child in a second car at gunpoint before police shot him.

Thomas Salizar, 35, no address given, received superficial scalp and shoulder wounds in the shooting, which closed four northbound lanes of the freeway for several hours, said Sgt. John FitzPatrick. The woman and child were not hurt.

Police were called to 3111 Dublin St. in Costa Mesa about 7:30 p.m. Saturday to investigate a report of a man hiding in bushes. The man had told the informant that he was hiding from gang members, police said.

When police arrived, the man climbed a fence and police chased him, FitzPatrick said. He ran to Harbor Boulevard and Nutmeg Place, a half-block away, where he pulled a motorist, Francisco Cardena Galvez, 28, of Santa Ana, out of his car at gunpoint, police said.

The man sped off, heading south on the freeway, with several police cars in pursuit, FitzPatrick said. He soon crashed into the center divider and fled on foot, causing traffic to halt, police said.

He then commandeered a northbound vehicle at gunpoint, pulling the driver and an unidentified girl out of the car, police said.

At that point, officers approached and Salizar pointed a small handgun at them, according to FitzPatrick.

Officers fired several shots. It was not clear whether Salizar returned fire.

Salizar was arrested on suspicion of grand theft auto, kidnaping and assault with a deadly weapon. He was taken to Fountain Valley Community Hospital and later was transferred to the jail ward at UCI Medical Center. He was released Sunday to the custody of the Orange County Jail, where he was held in lieu of $50,000 bail.

The Orange County district attorney's office is conducting an investigation into the incident, which is standard procedure after an officer-involved shooting.

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