A man who carjacked a sedan at gunpoint and led police on a high-speed chase before holing up in a Downey BBQ restaurant Thursday night has died, authorities said.
The man, whose name was not released, was pronounced dead inside the Chris’ & Pitt’s restaurant along Lakewood Boulevard, putting an end to a violent episode that wound through several cities in southeast Los Angeles County.
It’s unclear what led to the man’s death. Sheriff’s officials said law enforcement shot at the man but that further investigation would clarify how he died.
“We fired shots but we don’t know that any of those shots was the one that killed him,” Cmdr. Mike Parker said. “He had absolutely no concern for the safety of the public,” said Parker, adding: “It’s been a very difficult night.”
The pursuit began after a stolen car was detected via Lo-Jack, a tracking system that helps police recover stolen vehicles, said Officer Alex Rubio of the California Highway Patrol.
The Los Angeles County sheriff’s department was monitoring the stolen vehicle by helicopter. At some point, deputies saw the man ditch the first car and carjack a silver sedan by threatening a driver at gunpoint, Parker said.
Then came a winding chase at speeds as high as 80 miles per hour. While passing between Montebello and Monterey Park, the suspect struck at least one vehicle, Parker said. Footage of the chase broadcast on KCAL-TV Channel 9 showed the driver nearly striking a bicyclist.
The driver led authorities along surface streets in Monterey Park, Alhambra, Montebello, Pico Rivera and neighboring cities, speeding through red lights and weaving through occasionally heavy traffic, sheriff’s Deputy Ryan Rouzan said.
The chase ended when CHP officers performed a PIT maneuver in Downey, after which the man hopped out of the car and fired at least one shot with a handgun, Parker said.
The suspect then ran into the restaurant, about 7:45 p.m. and at least 80 patrons and employees escaped, Rouzan said.
What happened once the man ran into the restaurant is unclear, and Parker said details would be confirmed during an ongoing investigation.
A crisis negotiator was called to the scene. During the course of the standoff, at least three people had left the restaurant, according to aerial footage broadcast by KNBC-TV. It’s unknown if any were held as hostages.
This story will be updated as more information becomes available.
For breaking news in California, follow @MattHjourno.
Times staff writer Richard Winton contributed to this report.