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Suspect in weeks-long crime spree faces 26 charges, including murder

A suspected murderer who led police on a weeks-long manhunt during a violent crime spree throughout Los Angeles County, which included a double shooting in Burbank, was charged Tuesday in a 26-count complaint that includes murder, attempted murder, robbery and carjacking charges, officials said.

Artyom Gasparyan, 32, was shot by Los Angeles police on Jan. 4 following a wrong way freeway chase in which he collided with an oncoming car and tried to flee on foot.

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After being released from the hospital, he appeared in court on Tuesday sitting in a wheelchair wearing an orange jail jumpsuit. His arraignment, however, was continued to later this month.

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Gasparyan faces one count of capital murder, 11 counts of attempted murder, seven counts of second-degree robbery, two counts of carjacking, two counts of fleeing police while driving recklessly, one count each of hit and run resulting in injury, possessing a firearm by a felon and assault with a semiautomatic firearm, according to the Los Angeles County Superior Court criminal complaint.

Prosecutors have not yet decided whether they will pursue the death penalty.

Records show that his alleged crimes stretch back to last August, when he reportedly used a knife to try to kill a woman named Emily Jimenez.  In a separate complaint, he was charged with one count each of attempted murder and assault with a deadly weapon.

But the majority of the crimes of which he's accused occurred in December, stretching from Burbank and Long Beach to West Hollywood and Panorama City.

Gasparyan, who reportedly went to school in Glendale, is suspected of shooting a longtime Burbank resident, as well as a gardener working nearby, on Dec. 9.

Early that morning, Bheri Werntz, 67, and his son woke up to loud electronic music coming from outside, where a silver car was parked in their driveway with the windows rolled up.

A man sat in the driver's seat, wearing a suit and sunglasses, licking what appeared to be a joint.

Bheri Werntz was the first out the door, heading outside to pick up the newspaper from the driveway of their otherwise quiet neighborhood, where he's lived for 32 years.

His son stood in the doorway behind him, holding their puppy, a beagle named Dakota.

As the stranger rolled down the window, Bheri Werntz asked him what he was doing and if he could keep the music down.

Without a word, the man reached for a silver handgun sitting on the passenger seat and pointed it at the father, who retreated with both hands up.

Seconds later, the victim's son said, the gunman opened fire.

Weston Werntz, 28, ran to drop Dakota in her crate and rushed back out, shouting at the gunman, who slowly backed out of the driveway with one hand on the wheel, offering a toothless grin.

The two of them locked eyes for a couple of seconds before the younger Werntz turned his attention to his father, who was bleeding on the driveway, his face white and his eyes fluttering under his Yankees cap.

Bheri Werntz has since undergone more than a dozen surgeries, and his family has raised nearly $3,000 to help with costs during his recovery.

Within days, Burbank police identified Gasparyan and on Dec. 13 tracked him down to Long Beach, but he got away.

Hours later, Gasparyan would reportedly go on to shoot another victim in Los Angeles.

Gasparyan is also suspected in the Dec. 30 murder of a 37-year-old Winnetka man in what was described by Los Angeles police as a possible "road rage" shooting.

The victim, identified by coroner's officials as Adan Corea-Santillana, suffered multiple gunshot wounds and was pronounced dead shortly after at a Mission Hills hospital.

The nonstop search for Gasparyan came to a dramatic end on Jan. 4 when Los Angeles police shot him in front of commuters on the 5 Freeway after a short foot pursuit.

Undercover detectives had spotted him at a car repair shop and followed him until he entered the freeway on an offramp, which police believe he did because he suspected he was being followed.

Gasparyan subsequently collided with two oncoming vehicles before he got out of his car, armed with a handgun.

After a short foot pursuit, police shot Gasparyan and took him into custody.

He is being held without bail.

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