A suspected car thief led police on a wild chase Friday that ended when he crashed in a Long Beach neighborhood, burst into a nearby home and shot two people and stabbed another before turning his handgun on himself, authorities said.
The man, whose name had not been released, was in critical condition after shooting himself in the head inside a home on the 3300 block of Daisy Avenue, said Los Angeles Police Department Lt. John Jenal, a department spokesman.
The two gunshot victims are brothers in their early 20s. One was released from the hospital, as was his father, who was stabbed in the face by the intruder, Jenal said. The other brother remained hospitalized in stable condition, he said.
A third brother, also in his early 20s, managed to escape from the home through a bathroom window but fell face-first from the first-story window and required stitches to his mouth, Jenal said.
A man who said he was a friend of the family told reporters that the father’s wife — the mother of the brothers — was in the Philippines on vacation with her daughters and had called in tears to relay news of what had happened to her family in Long Beach.
“They are frantic,” Leopoldo Pili said of the mother and the two daughters traveling with her. “They are hysterical.”
The violence shocked residents of the Wrigley neighborhood in Long Beach, where children frequently ride their bicycles and scooters along the quiet streets and adults walk their dogs.
“This is horrific,” said Donna McCaleb, 54, who has lived in the area for 45 years. “There’s a lot of us who often leave our front door unlocked. We really shouldn’t, but we feel so safe.... For something like this to happen, it’s outrageous. That could have been our family.”
Paul Hunter, who has lived on Daisy since 2002, said police are rarely called to the street.
“It’s a quiet, nice neighborhood — lots of families,” he said as his 13-year-old daughter and 12-year-old son stood with him. “It’s so random that he ended up here.”
The incident began about 9:40 a.m. when an off-duty LAPD officer noticed a gray Volkswagen Passat driving recklessly on the 105 Freeway near Crenshaw Boulevard and called the California Highway Patrol. A police dispatcher told the officer that the car had been wanted in connection with a suspected car theft and robbery, Jenal said.
The officer followed the Passat when it left the freeway and for a short distance on surface streets before patrol cars from the LAPD’s Harbor Division caught up and a chase began. The Passat stopped around 223rd Street and Normandie Avenue, and a passenger jumped out and carjacked a nearby Dodge Durango, firing four times at the driver, Jenal said. The rounds missed, he said. The gunman yanked the driver out of the Durango and a passenger in the vehicle got out before the gunman took off.
The violent carjacking prompted the pursuing officers to follow the Durango rather than the Passat, which was last seen driving the wrong way down the 110 Freeway and has not been found, Jenal said.
“Once he fired rounds at those victims, that became the priority for those officers and they had to make a decision,” he said.
Jenal said authorities were unsure how many people were inside the Passat, which had tinted windows.
Police chased the Durango into Long Beach, where it crashed on Wardlow Road near Maine Avenue. The gunman fled on foot to Daisy and into the home, where he attacked the people inside, Jenal said.
Neighbors said they heard a loud boom when the SUV crashed on Wardlow, but thought nothing of it — crashes are common on the busy street, they said. Then they heard the gunfire and saw police swarm Daisy Avenue.
“The first couple of pops, I was like, ‘Is someone firing off fireworks?’ Then it was just a consecutive, ‘pop, pop, pop,’” said Allan Calpo, who lives next door to the house where the suspect ran. “I was like, ‘That’s gunshots.’”
Calpo initially watched from a balcony, he said, but police told him to go inside. He turned on the television, looking for any information about what was happening next door. He saw his house on TV. Then he heard more gunfire outside.
Officers from the LAPD’s Metro Division were nearby and entered the home, but the gunman had by then tried to commit suicide, Jenal said.
Detectives, including investigators from the LAPD’s Robbery-Homicide Division, are continuing to investigate a number of leads about the gunman, he said. They are also trying to determine whether he is connected to a Honda Accord that crashed Friday morning near the 105 Freeway and Crenshaw Boulevard.