Man dead after leading officers on 110 mph pursuit while firing at them
A man who fired at officers multiple times during a dangerous, high-speed pursuit last night was later pronounced dead after the chase wound its way from Hemet to Riverside. Countless officials from multiple agencies covering several jurisdictions assisted or participated during the nearly 50 mile chase that reached speeds of 110 mph.
Officials investigating the incident are now working to determine if the man died as a result of a self-inflicted gunshot wound or during an exchange of gunfire with officers at the end of the dramatic pursuit.
LEADING THE HEMET HEADLINES:
The deadly incident began in the city of Hemet around 7:30 p.m., Hemet Police Lt. Glen Brock explained from one of numerous crimes scenes after the pursuit and shootings.
According to Brock, members of Hemet PD’s Crime Suppression Unit were conducting a follow-up investigation into reports of a man who had been seen discharging a firearm into a field earlier in the week.
Citing the ongoing investigation, Brock did not specify where the man had been seen firing the weapon. He also did not state if the subject was prohibited from owning or possessing firearms or what crime the man was suspected of committing before last night’s incident.
CSU officers spotted the man, who has not yet been publicly identified, driving a silver convertible in the area of W. Devonshire Ave. and Kirby St.
When officers attempted to conduct a traffic stop on the man he refused to yield and sped away, according to Brock. CSU officers initiated a pursuit and began chasing the subject.
Official radio traffic during the pursuit indicated that despite the officers’ lights and sirens, the man continued to flee. He later reached speeds of up to 110 mph while fleeing down the center median of Florida Ave.
As the pursuit continued, the suspect drove in an extremely dangerous and reckless manner, without regard for the safety of citizens or pursuing officers. He was seen driving on the wrong side of the road, blowing through stop lights and stop signs, weaving in and out of traffic, and throwing things out the windows of his convertible.
“During the pursuit the subject fired at our officers several times,” Brock explained. Radio traffic indicated that at least one of the locations where the suspect fired upon officers happened near the 4 Seasons community, toward the city’s west end.
Several locations along the streets the pursuit traveled were later closed and cordoned off with crime scene tape and officials were seen walking up and down the streets, combing the ground and surrounding areas for evidence related to the multiple shootings.
With the suspect showing no signs of stopping and having fired upon pursuing officials several times, officers put out an emergency call for help, requesting priority assistance and air support from all surrounding law enforcement agencies.
Despite the danger and being repeatedly fired upon, Hemet PD continued pursuing the man.
Officers soon got assistance from Riverside County Sheriff’s Department and CHP as the pursuit continued westbound on Hwy. 74 and then north on the 215 Freeway.
Based on the circumstances and the fact that the chase was approaching their city at high speed, Riverside PD scrambled their aviation unit and a helicopter sped toward to the area and soon joined the pursuit.
With Riverside PD’s aviation unit overhead and monitoring the pursuit, the chase eventually exited the freeway at Van Buren Blvd. and continued into the city of Riverside. Once inside the city limits, Riverside PD “took over the pursuit and relieved our officers,” said Brock.
The fleeing man continued driving at dangerous and excessive high-speed west on Van Buren before eventually heading northbound on California St.
Several witnesses later reported from the scene that as the suspect turned from California St. into the wrong lanes of traffic on Arlington Ave., his convertible became wedged and blocked in between several vehicles, at which time Riverside PD officers moved in and officials exchanged gunfire with the suspect.
“It was terrible. So scary,” Riverside resident Denise Ochoa, still shaken from the incident, later said.
“I had just ordered dinner for me and my kids at Del Taco when I heard sirens coming fast. Lots of them,” Ochoa explained. “Then all the cop cars came screaming past, chasing a silver car. Then I heard gunshots and screaming and I just grabbed my kids and we hit the floor.”
After the shooting, countless patrol vehicles were seen stacked up behind and around the suspect’s convertible and officers, many armed with rifles and shotguns, took up protected positions from every direction surrounding the vehicle.
Under the glare of countless spotlights, all the convertible’s windows could be seen shattered. It was not immediately known if the shattered windows were the result of the suspect’s own gunfire during the pursuit or from the exchange of gunfire at its conclusion.
Officials at the scene began hailing the suspect via their vehicle’s PA systems, trying to get the man to surrender and exit his vehicle. Officers reported that the man was not moving and appeared to be slumped over in his convertible. However, fearing that the armed and dangerous man may still pose a threat, officers held back and requested SWAT and additional resources to the scene.
A Riverside PD armored tactical rescue vehicle and heavily armed members SWAT officers soon arrived to assist with the ongoing incident.
A K-9 was eventually deployed to check on the man, who continued to show no response. A tactical team then moved in under cover of the armored vehicle and determined the suspect had succumbed to his injuries. He was subsequently pronounced deceased at the scene.
Countless witnesses who saw the shooting or heard the gunfire near the Heritage Plaza later talked about the wild ending of the pursuit, with some believing officers had shot and killed the suspect and others claiming to have seen the man shoot himself, ending his own life.
Other than putting out a social media release requesting that nearby bystanders “move away from the immediate area and to a safer location while officers try to resolve the situation, and for any others to stay away for the time being,” Riverside PD has not yet issued any statement regarding their ongoing investigation.
As of 4 a.m., numerous crime scenes related to the pursuit and shootings remained active and closed to the public, with forensic technicians, officers, detectives, coroner’s officials, and other law enforcement personnel seen at the different locations.
No officers were reported injured during the incident.
This is a developing story that will be updated as additional information becomes available.
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Trevor Montgomery, 47, recently moved to Shasta County from Riverside County and runs Riverside County News Source and Shasta County News Source. Additionally, he writes for several other news organizations, including Riverside County based newspapers, Valley News, The Valley Chronicle and Anza Valley Outlook, as well as Bonsall/Fallbrook Village News in San Diego County and The Mountain Echo in Shasta County.
Trevor spent 10 years in the U.S. Army as an Orthopedic Specialist before joining the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department in 1998. He was medically retired after losing his leg, breaking his back and suffering both spinal cord and brain injuries in an off-duty accident. (Click here to see segment of Discovery Channel documentary of Trevor’s accident.)
During his time with the sheriff’s department, Trevor worked at several different stations, including Robert Presley Detention Center, Southwest Station in Temecula, Hemet/Valle Vista Station, Ben Clark Public Safety Training Center and Lake Elsinore Station, along with other locations.
Trevor’s assignments included Corrections, Patrol, DUI Enforcement, Boat and Personal Water-Craft based Lake Patrol, Off-Road Vehicle Enforcement, Problem Oriented Policing Team and Personnel/Background Investigations. He finished his career while working as a Sex Crimes and Child Abuse Investigator and was a court-designated expert in child abuse and child sex-related crimes.
Trevor has been married for more than 27 years and was a foster parent to more than 60 children over 13 years. He is now an adoptive parent and has 13 children and 14 – soon to be 15 – grandchildren.