All northbound lanes of the 215 Freeway reopened Saturday morning after a wrong-way police pursuit Friday in which a suspect was shot and killed after striking other cars in his flight.
The suspect, who was wanted in connection with a home-invasion robbery, died after a San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department deputy in a helicopter opened fire on the wrong-way vehicle and the man jumped out of the moving car.
The unidentified man jumped from the Chevy Yukon he was driving before it crashed head-on into an oncoming vehicle, said Deputy Deon Filer.
“The use of force occurred from the helicopter,” Filer said.
The man died at the scene.
Deputies say they don’t know whether the suspect was struck by gunfire or fatally injured by his leap from the vehicle.
It’s unclear how many times the deputy fired from the helicopter, or what kind of firearm he used. Officials also could not say how fast the vehicle was traveling at the time the suspect jumped.
The shooting shut down all northbound lanes of the 215 in the city of San Bernardino, jamming traffic for hours and miles. Vehicles were diverted off the freeway to Palm Avenue until the lanes were reopened Saturday before 8 a.m., according to the California Highway Patrol.
The closure also caused major traffic congestion on the 210 Freeway and the 15 Freeway as drivers tried to find another way around the closure.
“Our Aviation Division has been involved in an [officer-involved shooting] before,” San Bernardino sheriff’s spokeswoman Jodi Miller said in an email. “I don’t have an exact time frame when that occurred but understand it was a long time ago.”
Authorities from the Sheriff’s Department had been attempting to take the suspect into custody in Fontana about noon Friday, Miller said.
About 12:50 p.m., they attempted a traffic stop, but the suspect did not pull over. Within minutes, the pursuit from Fontana to San Bernardino reached speeds of more than 100 mph. The suspect then drove the wrong way onto the 215, Filer said.
The Yukon sideswiped at least one vehicle during the chase. After the suspect jumped out of the SUV, it crashed into another SUV with three people inside, officials said. The pursuit ended near Palm Avenue and Kendall Drive.
Three people were taken to a hospital with unknown injuries, sheriff’s officials said. No additional information was immediately available on their condition, officials said.
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