Beetle Pursuit Leads to Standoff - NBC Southern California

Beetle Pursuit Leads to Standoff

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    Beetle Pursuit Leads to Standoff
    A pursuit involving a Volkswagen Beetle leads to a standoff at the Federal Building in Westwood.

    A man suspected of making a threat against the White House led police on a chase from Westchester to West Los Angeles on Thursday then holed up inside a car near the Westwood federal building for nearly nine hours, prompting the evacuation of a nearby apartment building.

    The suspect was taken into custody peacefully around 6:45 p.m., after being in a standoff with police since around 10 a.m., according to Gregory Baek of the Los Angeles Police Department.

    "He was the subject of an investigation with several agencies involved, and earlier today he was spotted in his vehicle and officers attempted to stop the vehicle using their red lights and siren and he failed to stop," Los Angeles Police Department Lt. Robert Rooney told KTLA at the scene. "He ultimately drove here to the parking lot of the federal building."

    The suspect refused repeated attempts by police to speak with law enforcement at the scene.

    Rooney did not identify the suspect, but neighbors and the suspect's mother identified him as 56-year-old Joe Moshe of Westchester, according to a story posted on the Daily Breeze's website.

    At least four police cruisers blocked the red Volkswagen Beetle in the driveway of a parking lot on Veteran Avenue south of Wilshire Boulevard.

    Officers stood nearby with their guns pointed at the vehicle, and a police robot wheeled its way around the vehicle as the standoff continued. A military-style armored vehicle was also brought to the scene and was eventually parked against the front of the vehicle, ensuring that the man inside could not drive away.

    A red pickup truck and a black sedan that were in the driveway when the suspect drove alongside were also blocked in by police cruisers. The occupants of those vehicles were safely evacuated.

    Veteran Avenue was closed in both directions south of Wilshire Boulevard. An apartment building on the east side of Veteran was evacuated as a precaution.

    The Daily Breeze reported on its website that U.S. Secret Service agents went to Moshe's door Wednesday night, but he did not answer. Agents then interviewed neighbors instead.

    A Secret Service spokesman said the man was being investigated for allegedly calling local police on a "non-emergency line" and making a threat against the White House. The details of that phone call were not released.

    When officers tried to stop the man at about 10 a.m. in Westchester, he drove off, heading north on the San Diego (405) Freeway, followed by multiple police cruisers and a helicopter crew.

    He drove into the federal building parking lot off Veteran, circled and tried to exit back onto Veteran, but he was blocked in by a police SUV, beginning the standoff around 10:30 a.m.

    Rooney would not discuss whether the suspect was armed. He also said the man has had previous contacts with law enforcement, "but I can't go into those."

    Late in the afternoon, officers went to the suspect's home in Westchester and conducted a search to determine if he might have bomb-making or other dangerous materials, officials said.

    A short time later, at about 5:30 p.m., police fired a "chemical agent," possibly tear gas, into the vehicle through a hole that was broken in the rear passenger-side window, but the suspect remained in the vehicle. At least two more canisters were thrown inside the vehicle, causing a plume of smoke to emerge from the car, but the suspect remained inside.

    A neighbor told the Daily Breeze that Moshe was usually harmless, "but once he gets off his meds, he is screaming profanity."

    Another neighbor said Moshe has "issues."

    "He doesn't take his medication, he doesn't do that well," the neighbor told the paper.

    According to the online Daily Breeze report, Moshe's mother, 90-year-old Julia Moshe said her son was "a sick man. Depressed."