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Driver in Costa Mesa suicide, vehicle fire ID’d as 36-year-old Santa Ana man on probation

The driver who shot himself in a police pursuit in Costa Mesa was Joseph Anthony De La Rosa.
The driver who shot himself at the end of a Nov. 16 police pursuit in Costa Mesa was identified as Joseph Anthony De La Rosa, 36, of Santa Ana.
(Courtesy of Costa Mesa Police Department)
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A man who shot himself after a Nov. 16 police pursuit ended in a collision and vehicle fire in Costa Mesa has been identified as a Santa Ana resident with a track record of run-ins with law enforcement.

Garden Grove Police Sgt. Nick Jensen confirmed Tuesday the individual at the center of the incident was 36-year-old Joseph Anthony De La Rosa, of Santa Ana. No other information is being released by police, as an investigation is still ongoing.

However, court records indicate De La Rosa had been serving three year’s probation for driving under the influence of alcohol in 2021 and previously served time in jail for drug convictions.

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The Santa Ana resident also appeared in court in April, where he faced one felony count of unlawfully taking a vehicle and a misdemeanor charge for driving in willful disregard of safety while evading a peace officer, stemming from a March 13 incident.

De La Rosa pleaded guilty to only the latter, reportedly spending just 34 days in jail after a judge dismissed the felony charge, records show.

In 2014, he was sentenced to two years in prison after facing similar charges of vehicle theft, evading police and reckless driving, along with a misdemeanor drug possession charge. In that case, the theft charges were dropped after De La Rosa reportedly pleaded guilty to felony evasion and the misdemeanor drug charge.

In addition to those incidents, the Santa Ana resident faced charges for possession of a controlled substance and drug paraphernalia, along with falsely representing himself to officers, related to three separate incidents that took place from 2017 to 2021. For those crimes, he received two 180-day sentences and was placed on three year’s probation in 2018.

It is still unknown whether the pickup truck De La Rosa was driving on the streets of Garden Grove the afternoon of Nov. 16, which caught the attention of police on patrol and initiated the pursuit, belonged to him or may have been taken without the owner’s permission.

That journey ended in a collision at the intersection of Placentia Avenue and Victoria Street in Costa Mesa, which caused the truck to become engulfed in flames. De La Rosa was pronounced dead at the scene from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, Jensen confirmed Tuesday.

Anyone with information about the incident is encouraged to contact Garden Grove Police Det. Steve Estlow at (714) 741-5830.

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