Police Car Catches Fire During Pursuit

After a harrowing escape attempt that left a police car in flames and the alleged getaway vehicle punctured with police bullets, authorities arrested a suspect in the armed robbery of a Bell Gardens cellphone store.

The suspect, identified as Dillan Wilson, 25, was taken into custody in the dry channel of the Rio Honda, about a mile from the Verizon wireless store on Eastern Avenue.

A handgun was recovered from his SUV, police said.

At one point as the pursuit went into a residential neighborhood in adjacent Downey, and Wilson came to a dead end, he allegedly backed into two police cars, then drove toward an officer.

"Several shots were fired by the second officer to stop the suspect vehicle from hitting the officer that was standing nearby," said Robert Barnes, the chief of the Bell Gardens Police Department.

The SUV continued toward the Rio Hondo.

En route, the lead pursuing police car caught fire for reasons yet to be determined, but apparently mechanical and not related to the earlier gunfire. The officers got out in time to escape harm.

Not far away, near where Suva Street crosses the Rio Hondo, the suspect quit the SUV and took off into the dry river bed. Shortly thereafter, he was taken into custody.

Wilson had face and arm cuts that may have been caused by shattered glass, Barnes said. Paramedics treated him at the scene and he was booked into the Bell Gardens City Jail.

From witnesses at the Verizon store, police believe there were other armed robbers who used different methods of escape. How many others was not immediately clear.

On entering the store, the robbers tore out the security camera, but detectives were hopeful some usable video could be salvaged, Barnes said.

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