Hours-Long Standoff Ends in Laguna Beach

It began after an armed driver refused to get out of his car following a multi-car crash

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    NEWSLETTERS

    NBC 4 New York
    File photo

    The driver involved in an hours-long standoff who told police that if they opened the door of his black Mustang, the car would explode, was taken into custody late Wednesday after SWAT officers tossed tear gas into his car, according to Laguna Beach Police.

    The contentious standoff began after the driver was involved in a multi-car crash at about 5:20 p.m. near Coast Highway and Vista Del Sol. It ended at about 10 p.m. and the driver was taken into custody without incident, police said.

    A single shot was fired by a police officer who allegedly saw the driver's hand move toward the weapon, a .22-caliber handgun later recovered from the car. The shot struck the car, but not the driver.

    A passerby called 911 and told police that when he went to check on the driver, he saw what looked like a handgun. Police were able to confirm that the driver did have a gun in his lap, but after the man was taken into custody, officers were unable to find the explosives the driver warned them about.

    "They began ordering the male driver out of the car to which he told them, if the door is pulled open the car would explode," the statement read.

    Witness John Veytia said he was in a meeting at the time of the crash and reported hearing what sounded like gunfire. Veytia and about 12 other people were locked down in his office for hours and by 9:30 p.m. had been escorted by police to a parking garage.

    Veytia said he could hear police speaking to the driver in both English and Spanish.

    "Police were being unbelievably patient," he told NBC4. They were telling the driver "we’re here to help you. Your family loves you. They’ve tried everything."

    The driver was only identified as a 42-year-old man from Los Angeles County.

    At 9 p.m., about 4 hours after the crash, the man was still inside his car. Coast Highway between Vista Del Sol and 7th Avenue will remain closed in both directions until further notice, police said.

    No injuries have been reported and the crash will be investigating after the standoff ends.

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