A man driving a stolen car--with two female impersonators as reluctant passengers--led police on an erratic chase Sunday from Echo Park to Buena Park, where he unwittingly drove into the Police Department parking lot and was captured on foot nearby.
The man deliberately sideswiped a patrol car clearing a path on the Hollywood Freeway, weaved through traffic and drove twice 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, who chased the suspect to Orange County and captured him after he ditched the car and hopped several fences in the residential neighborhood behind the Buena Park police station.
The man’s name was not immediately released because he told police he was 17, Vanelli said, even though police records indicate he is an adult who lives in Santa Ana.
Vanelli said police still aren’t sure why two men dressed as women were riding in the car. The suspect apparently picked up one passenger Saturday night, and the second passenger, whom 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.
The pursuit began about 8:20 a.m. when officers spotted a red Honda that had been reported stolen last Tuesday in Santa Ana, near Sunset Boulevard and Alvarado Avenue.
When officers tried to pull the driver over, he ran a stop sign and sped off, Vanelli said.
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.
“In our estimation, the suspect was trying to cause a traffic accident to stop the pursuit,” Vanelli said.
After reaching 70 m.p.h. on the southbound Santa Ana Freeway and racing through surface streets, the driver turned into the police station parking lot.
Surrounded by a helicopter and 20 officers, including several from Buena Park, the man surrendered about 100 yards from the station. He was charged with assault with a deadly weapon on a police officer for hitting the patrol car.
The passengers, who were later released, told police they didn’t know the car was stolen. Once the chase began, they added, they tried to get out.
“This is a stolen car,” Vanelli said the passengers quoted the driver as saying, “and I ain’t stopping.”