Laguna Beach police still could not answer late Tuesday afternoon why officers shot a driver suspected of causing a traffic collision hours earlier at South Coast Highway at St. Anns Drive.
The reason for the shooting, the driver’s name and the names of the officers involved in the shooting had not been released as of 2:30 p.m. The man, who, police believe, was in his 20s, was reported in critical condition at Mission Hospital in Mission Viejo, where he was taken after the 7:55 a.m. collision.Details of the shooting are sketchy, Lt. Jason Kravetz said.
“However, witnesses said they saw the car moving back and forth and words were exchanged by the driver and an officer,” Kravetz said. “More than one officer opened fire.”
The Orange County district attorney’s is investigating the shooting, as is normal procedure in an officer-related shooting in Laguna Beach. The police department is investigating the traffic collision and what led up to it.
The Orange County Sheriff’s Department headquarters was notified about the car’s erratic movements in Dana Point sometime before the collision, Kravetz said.
The car, a Lancer, also was seen blowing past police officers controlling traffic at Wesley Drive, where the signal was out of order. Other observers saw the car speeding down the center lane of South Coast Highway minutes before the crash.
“We’ve had reports of speeds from 70 to 100 miles an hour,” Kravetz said.
Teenage surfers heading to school from North Reef reportedly returned to the beach and told surfer Travis Gleason, 29, that they had seen the shooting.
“They were really freaked out,” said Gleason, who was still in the water when he heard the noise of the collision. “They said six shots were fired.”
The collision and subsequent shooting tied up the heavy morning commute hour traffic and was still being investigated seven hours later. St. Anns Drive was closed to traffic between the highway and Glenneyre Street, where police had established a command and press information center. The highway was reopened around 4 p.m. Tuesday.
Any witnesses who left the scene of the accident before talking to police officers, or have other information about the driver, are asked to call Kravetz at (949) 497-0307