South Los Angeles

Traffic Stop Turns Into a Bizarre 6-Hour, Slow-Speed Freeway Chase

A pursuit that started in the South Los Angeles area covered several Southern California freeways before ending in a shower of sparks in Ontario.

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A bizarre six-hour police pursuit of a man who was believed to be armed with a gun Tuesday night moved erratically through South Los Angeles and at slow speeds on several Southern California freeways before finally concluding about 40 miles east of Los Angeles.

The driver's mother wanted to speak about her son's mental health as a warning to other families. Jonathan Gonzalez reported on NBC4 News on Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2021.

The pursuit started around 7 p.m. in response to a report of a man with a gun, according to the LAPD. During a traffic stop, the driver refused to get out of the car and eventually sped away, police said.

Updated Article: Mother Says She's Grateful for Peaceful End to Chase.

After the chase ended six hours later and about 40 miles away in Ontario, police said no weapon was found. It was not immediately clear whether he ever had a weapon or possibly threw one out the window during the chase.

The driver was arrested on suspicion of felony evading. He also had two outstanding warrants for burglary, police said.

Los Angeles Police Department Sgt. Juan Garcia, who had just started his shift, was among the officers involved in the chase. He said the possibility that the man was armed is one of the reasons officers did not try a PIT maneuver to spin the car and end the marathon chase.

The pursuit started around 7:04 p.m. in response to a report of a man with a gun, according to the LAPD. Newschopper4 was over the chase around 7:10 p.m., as the car was driving through a residential neighborhood at high speeds. The silver car was driving at high speeds and even drove on the wrong side of the street several times.

“Our policy generally prohibits us from conducting a PIT maneuver on somebody we believe is armed because it puts us at a disadvantage when we flip that car around,” Garcia said. “Now he’s face-to-face with us, and it is pretty unsafe.”

In his 20 years with the department, Garcia said that he has never heard of pursuit going on for so long and added that many officers had to pull off the pursuit to gas up their vehicles using their own money. The driver of the Chevy Malibu apparently had a full tank of gas, he said.

“That’s a first of my career for such a lengthy pursuit,” Garcia said. 

The chase ended in Ontario, about 40 miles east of Los Angeles, after the car shed a tire and wheel.

Here's how the historic pursuit went down.

Newschopper4 was over the chase around 7:10 p.m., as the car was in a residential neighborhood traveling at high speeds. The silver car was even on the wrong side of the street several times.

The driver was speeding on La Cienega Boulevard northbound before getting on Slauson Avenue. Multiple times, the driver again went on the wrong side of the street to avoid traffic and blew through red lights.

The driver then decided to get on southbound Crenshaw Boulevard, proceeding to recklessly zoom through the Hyde Park neighborhood for an extended time, returning to Crenshaw Boulevard several times.

The driver entered the 110 Freeway southbound, merged onto the freeway at a slow speed and swerved across lanes. The driver appearing to be on a cell phone while driving.

Around 7:53 p.m., the chase continued on the 110 Freeway southbound past the 105 Freeway.

While the driver was occasionally below the posted speed limit, the car also hit more than 90 mph.

At one point, the chase came to crawl on the 110 Freeway southbound in Wilmington, and the driver appeared to be changing clothes. After hitting the end of the 110 Freeway in San Pedro, the driver made a u-turn and returned northbound on the 110 Freeway.

The pursuit speeds dropped dramatically, with the car consistently moving at 30-40 mph and even dropping down into single-digit speeds multiple times.

After crawling down the freeway for an extended period of time, the chase finally arrived in downtown Los Angeles around 9:05 p.m., nearly two hours after the chase began.

The driver continued to move at slow speeds before taking the 101 Freeway, continuing to move at slow speeds with a parade of police vehicles in tow. The car eventually moved onto the 10 Freeway eastbound.

Continuing to move at slow speeds, the pursuit passed the three-hour mark on the 10 Freeway with the car's front tires badly damaged.

Staying on the 10 Freeway, the chase continued and arrived in Baldwin Park shortly after 11 p.m., hitting the four-hour mark with the front left tire completely riding on metal rims.

As the driver continued to play cat and mouse games with police, the pursuit extended into its fifth hour. Traffic buildup behind the pursuit could be seen for miles, as cars were forced to travel at the slow pace behind the pursuit.

Approaching six hours, the silver Chevy continued to play the stop and start game with police as it moved past the Kellogg Interchange.

Sparks flew as the car had seemingly had enough of driving on rims. The chase was finally over, and the driver opened the door and exited.

However, the driver did not immediately comply, as he kept lowering his hands to his sides after raising them. The standoff continued, but Newschopper4 had to leave to refuel, as the driver was in a literal standoff with police on the 10 Freeway in Ontario at 1:25 a.m.

Moments later, NBCLA photojournalist Alex Vasquez reported that police had arrested the driver and ended the marathon pursuit.

NBCLA's Michelle Valles and Jonathan Lloyd contributed to this report.

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