A manhunt for a wanted murder suspect ended violently Monday on a Southern California freeway when police shot the man they suspect in a series of crimes that started Dec. 6.
The man police shot was Artyom Gasparyan, 32, who was wanted for murder, attempted murder, carjacking and robbery spanning Burbank, Panorama City and the Carson area, said Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck.
He was shot after a chase ended in a crash on the northbound Golden State (5) Freeway at Glenoaks Boulevard in Sun Valley before 4 p.m. The freeway was closed in both directions during the evening commute for an unknown duration while police investigated the case.
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At a news conference, Beck said the suspect had been driving in opposing lanes of traffic on the freeway when he crashed. He may have tried to carjack another car, but was not successful, Beck said. He was then shot by police.
Beck said he had assigned hundreds of law enforcement personnel to track down this "dangerous man" whom he said was possibly a meth addict and was wanted in a crime spree dating to Dec. 6.
"This was a very tense situation for all of Los Angeles -- the whole region," Beck said.
Matthew Mills was driving up the 5 Freeway when he saw a crash and a man run in the center median, followed by police.
"We came up on an accident," he said. "A family that was in the car got out and was lining up against wall. We heard this screaming and we look and saw this guy running down the freeway median.
"Then we saw police officers following him with AR-15s, guns drawn. They just shot him. They took him out."
Ramirez died Saturday at an area hospital as police identified him as an accomplice of Gasparyan.
Police said Gasparyan's crimes date back to a Dec. 6 shooting in Burbank where a 67-year-old man was shot multiple times at his home and a 33-year-old gardener was also wounded.
On Dec. 30, Gasparyan was allegedly involved in the shooting death of a 37-year-old man near Van Nuys Boulevard and Plummer Street that was initially reported as a road rage incident. Officers found the victim lying near a car and took him to a hospital, where he died.
Police also believe Gasparyan is linked to several other shootings in the Panorama City area, also on Dec. 30, that left three people wounded.
New Year's Pursuit, Hostages and Escape
The Long Beach pursuit began when Gasparyan and Ramirez allegedly stole a Volkswagon Passat on New Year's Day, then led police on a high-speed chase through the Carson area, police said.
At 9:30 a.m. on New Year's Day, an off-duty Los Angeles police officer spotted the Passat, which had been involved in another crime earlier that morning, at 182nd and Vermont Avenue, said Sgt. Bradley Hearn of the LAPD's Harbor station.
The off-duty officer phoned in what he saw and other officers eventually spotted the Passat near 223rd Street and Vermont Avenue, where the pursuit began, Hearn said. During the pursuit, one of the suspects fired at the occupants of an orange Dodge Durango that pulled over when the driver heard the patrol car's sirens, Hearn said.
The two occupants inside the Durango got out of the vehicle. They were not injured. Officers followed the car into Long Beach, where the driver crashed into a curb and ran into the house on Daisy Avenue, the police sergeant said.
"It was a random house. There was no connection (to the suspect)," Hearn said.
Ramirez allegedly fought with a man inside the house and stabbed him in the face with a knife from the kitchen. The man and a younger son, who suffered an injury to his hands, were able to flee.
Ramirez allegedly held the remaining two sons in the house as hostages, eventually shooting them both, police said. Both were treated and released, according to media reports. As police approached, Ramirez shot himself in the head, Hearn said.
Police eventually found the Passat, but Gasparyan wasn't found for three more days.
Authorities said Gasparyan was in critical condition after being shot Monday.
A Sig Alert was canceled and all lanes on the 5 Freeway were reopened just before 1 a.m., according to the CHP.
City News Service contributed to this report.