A man driving a stolen car--and with two female impersonators as reluctant passengers--led police on an erratic chase Sunday from Los Angeles to Buena Park, where he unwittingly drove into the Police Department parking lot and was captured on foot in a neighborhood nearby.
The man deliberately sideswiped a patrol car clearing a path on the Hollywood Freeway, weaved between cars and trucks and twice drove into oncoming traffic on Beach Boulevard in an attempt to cause an accident to thwart the pursuit, said Los Angeles Police Sgt. John Vanelli.
“This was a wild one,” said Vanelli, watch commander of the Rampart Station in Los Angeles, who chased the suspect to Orange County and captured him after he ditched his car and hopped several fences in the residential neighborhood behind the Buena Park police station in trying to get away.
The man’s name was not immediately released because he told police he was 17, Vanelli said, even though police records indicate the man is an adult who lives in Santa Ana.
The pursuit began about 8:20 a.m. when Los Angeles officers spotted a red Honda, which had been reported stolen last Tuesday in Santa Ana, near Sunset Boulevard and Alvarado Avenue.
Vanelli said police still aren’t sure what the story is behind the two men dressed as women who were riding in the car. The suspect apparently picked up one passenger Saturday night, and the second rider, who Vanelli said is a friend of the first, joined the group shortly before the chase.
The driver was not wearing women’s apparel, Vanelli said.
Officers requested back-up, turned on their flashing lights and tried to pull the driver over, but he ran a stop sign and sped off, according to Vanelli.
As the driver entered the southbound lanes of the Hollywood Freeway, “he intentionally struck a police car on the freeway that was being utilized for traffic control” to keep the suspect from hitting other motorists, Vanelli said.
“He came right at them and careened off,” Vanelli continued. “In our estimation, the suspect was trying to cause a traffic accident to stop the pursuit.”
Traveling 60 to 70 m.p.h., the driver turned off the Hollywood Freeway and onto the southbound Santa Ana Freeway, trailed by four patrol cars and an LAPD helicopter.
He left the freeway and drove the wrong way into traffic on Beach Boulevard, Vanelli said, raced around residential streets and then popped back onto Beach, again speeding the wrong way, trying to cause an accident.
“It looked like he knew his way around this area, like he’d been there before,” Vanelli said.
Shortly after 9 a.m., the driver turned into a parking lot.
“I don’t think he knew where he was,” Vanelli said.
Suddenly, he realized he was at the Buena Park police station. He dashed out into the neighborhood.
“He jumped a couple of walls, and was coming over another one, right into my arms,” Vanelli said. “At that point, I think he got the big picture.”
Surrounded by a helicopter and 20 officers, including several from Buena Park, the man surrendered about 100 yards from the station. He said nothing to police as he was arrested. He was booked as a juvenile Sunday afternoon on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon on a police officer, said LAPD Sgt. Jessie Williams.
The passengers told police they didn’t know the car was stolen and once the chase began, they tried to get out.
“This is a stolen car,” Vanelli said they quoted the driver as saying, “and I ain’t stopping.”
They were released.