Police pursuit ends in suicide, vehicle fire in Costa Mesa
Costa Mesa fire crews rushed to the intersection of Placentia Avenue and Victoria Street Thursday evening, where a police pursuit that began in Garden Grove ended with an apparent suicide and the vehicle erupting in flames, officials reported.
Garden Grove Police Department’s Sgt. Nick Jensen said the incident began shortly before 4:30 p.m. when officers on patrol observed a light-colored pickup truck that appeared to be operating in violation of vehicle code and attempted to initiate a traffic stop.
“The officers tried to pull the car over and the vehicle fled immediately so a pursuit ensued,” Jensen said. “During that pursuit, Garden Grove officers saw the driver with a gun. A helicopter was following, so officers ended up backing off.”
The individual, described by police as a man, was driving dangerously during the pursuit, a fact that was bolstered by reports on social media from Costa Mesa residents who described and captured video footage of a light-colored pickup speeding through residential streets.
At some point, the vehicle came to a stop in or near the intersection. Jensen said a police officer from an outside agency reported hearing some kind of collision and a gunshot.
“The driver’s foot was apparently on the gas, but the tires were spinning,” he added, saying it was not yet clear when or how the truck caught fire.
Fire crews arrived on scene and quickly extinguished the fire. The driver was pronounced dead at the scene. No other occupants were inside the vehicle at the time of the incident, Jensen confirmed.
At 5:14 p.m., the Costa Mesa Police Department advised residents to steer clear of the intersection due to a large police presence in the area. An investigation into the incident, and whether the driver may have been involved in any criminal activity, is underway.
“It’s going to be a long investigation,” Jensen said.
Anyone with information about the incident is encouraged to contact Garden Grove Police Det. Steve Estlow at (714) 741-5830.
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