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California Chase Ends

Aired October 2, 2002 - 10:57   ET


DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: More information now on the situation in southern California. A high-speed chase involving we believe three murder suspects, ending up with the truck being wrapped around a lamppost.
We're going to bring in right now helicopter pilot Michael James. He's with KCBS and has been following the story for some time.

Michael, good morning.

Thank you very much.

KAGAN: What can you tell us about what's taking place there?

MICHAEL JAMES, KCBS REPORTER: We do know that these were three murder suspects, wanted 187 murder suspects. They were spotted in the Buena Park area. Buena Park police caught sight of them, and a pursuit began. The suspects were in that blue Bronco SUV you can see right there.

The pursuit actually got onto the freeway rather quick, onto the 5 freeway that runs by the Disneyland area. Speeds up to about 95 miles an hour. This was a very dangerous pursuit because the suspects wanted for murder really had nothing to lose, so they were weaving in and out of traffic. This being the drive time, around 7:00, 7:30 in the morning, and there was a lot of traffic out there. They were weaving in and out of traffic lanes. They did hit several other vehicles along the way as this pursuit went from the 5 up to the 241, the 91, and finally ending up right here on Lincoln, off the 55 freeway in the city of Orange.

We'll pull back here. You can see all the police. We had Buena Park Police, Anaheim Police, as well as the California Highway Patrol. They got south on the southbound side of the 55 and exited right off here, right here at Tustin Avenue and then went south over to Lincoln.

At this point, the Highway Patrol was very worried that now this pursuit was on surface streets, that somebody could possibly get hurt. So what they do in these instances if they can use the pit maneuver -- which means that they get in behind the vehicle and they are able to spin that vehicle around -- that's what they will do. Luckily, they were successful in doing that. They were able to spin this SUV around, and they ran it right into that power pole.

Right after the vehicle hit this pole, the driver jumped out. We heard that there were shots fired. We're thinking that might have been the Highway Patrol that fired those shots, but we're not certain. And one of the suspects ran off into a nearby park area. The other two remained in the vehicle. Luckily, those two people were able to be taken into custody without incident. But they did have a little problem getting the person that had taken off into this park area -- we'll pull back here and we'll show you that. But within about five minutes the suspect finally gave himself up without incident.

So luckily, none of the officers were injured. We do have an ambulance on the scent. Looks like we may have one of the suspects injured in this wreck. But luckily, none of the officers were injured.

Of course, they have shut down and taped off the entire area here.

Three suspects -- murder suspects -- in custody. Luckily, no officers are shot.

But looks like they are working on one of the suspects right now.

KAGAN: Michael James of KCBS. Hopefully, you can stay with us just a minute or two.

We are going to bring Leon here, and he has other information.

LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: And pretty fast work by these police, too, we should add, considering that it is rush hour out there, in the morning.

We want to show you some pictures we got that are somewhat troubling here. We think that this may be the victim of the murder that was committed by the three suspects.

Can't tell you exactly where this is. Our affiliate KTLA is providing us these pictures. This is videotape; this is not a live shot right here. But as you can see, whatever happened happened out here on the sidewalk. It wasn't as though this happened inside a residence or inside some enclosure or whatever -- this happened out there on the street, apparently. And the police involved and got in there, and as we said, this happened sometime a little over an hour or so ago, according to the information that we are getting. It's coming in here by dribs and drabs, we should admit. But there are affiliates there providing us the best we can give right now on this, and this is the picture we have here of the victim. No word on the identity, or even if it's a male or a female or anything.

KAGAN: Michael James, KCBS, are you with us?

JAMES: Yes, I am.

KAGAN: Do you have any more information about the alleged murder that took place?

JAMES: No, we don't have any information on the murder itself. We picked up the pursuit with Buena Park Police, so the pursuit had already start. Along the pursuit, when the police were talking, they didn't mention anything about any victims or that. We just heard just what was going on with the pursuit itself.

You told us that this got to be a very high-speed chase, up to 95 miles an hour, some other cars hit along the way. For those of our viewers, since we have a national audience and beyond here, not familiar with southern California, Buena Park to Anaheim, where this ended, I know folks might be familiar with Buena Park. That is Knott's Berry Farm, and Anaheim being Disneyland. But how far did this chase go before it ended?

JAMES: From the ending point to the starting point is not very far; it is maybe about 10 miles. But it did encompass a lot of freeway. So you are looking at a maybe a 30-, a 40-, if not a 50-mile pursuit because it ended up going down towards where the El Toro Air Base, the former air base, is, down in the city of El Toro, and it went up a lot farther north than that as well. So we're looking at maybe about a 40- to 50-mile pursuit before it finally did end up right here in the city of Orange.

Also, it was during the rush hour time. And the 5 is a very, very busy freeway. They did a lot of construction because of Disneyland. So they did widen it. But it was a lot of lot people out there. It was rush hour. And he was driving very, very dangerously, weaving in and out of traffic, sometimes in the left lane, sometimes in the middle lane.

At one point, when he was on the 91 freeway, coming back into the Orange County area, he actually got off the freeway, and the Highway Patrol and all the police followed him. He made a cut across what we call the Gore Point (ph) here -- it was a very grassy area -- and then back onto the freeway, cut clear across traffic, and got into the carpool lane, and was doing about 80, 90 miles an hour in the carpool lane. So that's why the officers, once they were able to get the suspect off the freeway and able to get real close behind him and use that PIT maneuver -- that's why they did so, because these guys were very, very dangerous the way they were driving.

HARRIS: I believe we did see some of the shots in that HOV lane, too.

Can you give us another description of this area where we're looking at right now with these live pictures. Is this a residential area where this vehicle was brought to a stop.

JAMES: Yes, Los Angeles here, we have a lot of the residential and also the commercial that kind of just abuts up against each other. But right off the freeway, this is mostly a commercial area. You can you see a mall here, and on the other side here, it looks like possibly a motel and some fast food restaurants. But if you went a little bit farther, you can see you start running into some homes here. That is a park, a little pond right there in the Orange area. And then you start running into some homes, a lot of apartment buildings, a lot of condos. So that was a concern for a lot of the officers because it is the fall, and also schools are back in session, and there are a lot of schools in the southern California area.

So having somebody going 80 miles an hour on a surface street is not something the police or the highway patrol wants. So if they can use that PIT maneuver as soon as they can, they are going to use it. Luckily, they were able to do so right off the freeway. They got to the suspects very quickly and able to run them right into that pole there.

HARRIS: You're exactly right. Good job getting that done very quickly.

KAGAN: It also appears, if you could pull over then to the right a little bit, that one of the suspects was injured in the pursuit or the crash. Do you have any more information on that?

JAMES: We're not sure exactly where this person was sitting in the vehicle. Because the windows in the back of the SUV were blacked out. They knew that they had three suspects, but they weren't sure if there were any more. So I'm not sure if this person may have been sitting INTERVIEW the back or if he was -- he wasn't the driver, so he may have been the passenger that sitting next to the driver in the passenger seat there, up in the front there.

Right now, they are working on him. It looks like they just have that -- looks like just the one suspect there. That was one of the first ones that they were able to get out of there. The other one was wearing black, and that was the driver. Looks like they have already taken him into custody, got him in the back of one of those black and whites. Looks like they're still working on him, though. He's sitting up, so it doesn't look like he is seriously injured. Probably kind of knocked up a little bit because the PIT maneuver was rather abrupt when they hit that pole at a good speed. Once they got off the freeway, they were doing at least 40, if not 50 miles an hour.

KAGAN: Michael James, KCBS, you've been very helpful. Thank you so much.


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