A suspect in a series of rapes and robberies died after a shoot-out in which a police officer was wounded late Saturday in a Garden Grove residential area, authorities said.
Police said Barrie Lee Hill, 35, of Garden Grove, apparently fatally wounded himself after ambushing two plainclothes officers who were tailing him.
Hill was under investigation for armed robberies and rapes in Orange County dating back to 1981. Police said he was not linked to a series of rapes of elderly women in Anaheim, Fullerton, Santa Ana and Claremont.
Police Lt. Chuck Gibbs said that despite being hit five times by police bullets, Hill managed to run an entire block before he apparently fired a bullet into his head, collapsing in the front yard of a residence.
"Whether he died from the head wound or the officers' bullets we don't know right now. We do know that after he shot himself in the head, he lived another 2 1/2 hours before being pronounced dead," Gibbs said.
"We will not know more information until ballistics tests are done."
Hill died at the UCI Medical Center in Orange.
Police did not initially reveal that Hill had shot himself. Gibbs said the decision to release that information came after a preliminary investigation was completed Sunday by the Orange County district attorney's office, which routinely investigates officer-involved shootings, he said.
The district attorney's office could not be reached for comment Sunday.
Gibbs said that Officers Robert Sanders and David Kivler had Hill under surveillance about 11:30 p.m. in a residential neighborhood near Jackson Street north of Stanford Avenue. At the time, Hill was wearing a ski mask and gloves, Gibbs said.
Hill had been under investigation for some time, but evidence linking him to any crime was not substantial enough to criminally charge him, Gibbs said. Police were trailing Hill Saturday intending to arrest him while he was committing a crime, Gibbs said.
Instead, according to the police account, Hill hid in the shrubbery of a house on Jackson Street and then allegedly opened fire on Kivler and Sanders, shooting the latter in the right arm.
A statement released by police Sunday said: "Hill was under surveillance by investigators from the Garden Grove Police Department whose purpose was to apprehend Hill during the commission of a crime as there was insufficient evidence to file criminal charges against him.
"Hill observed the officers following and hid. As the officers approached Hill's hiding place, not knowing exactly where he was, Hill opened fire on the officers, hitting investigator Sanders in the right arm.
"Investigator Sanders and Kivler returned fire, wounding Hill, who managed to get away. Hill was located in a front yard of a residence a short distance away," the statement said.
In addition to the ski mask and gloves, police said, Hill had an automatic pistol and a dagger.
Hill was released from prison in 1980 after having served a five-year sentence for a rape and robbery in Oceanside, according to police.
Sanders was taken to Fountain Valley Regional Hospital, where he requested that no information on his condition be released.
Kivler was not injured, the spokesman said.