Traffic remains heavily impacted after Thursday night freeway shootout

A car is pursued by law enforcement on the south bound 14 Freeway near Newhall Avenue on Thursday, March 05, 2020. Dan Watson/The Signal
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A suspect who allegedly fired at deputies and a sheriff’s helicopter during a high-speed pursuit has been hospitalized and his condition is reported as stable.

At least one of the suspects was shot in the leg by deputies before being struck by a passing vehicle, according to officials. A second suspect was taken into custody.

One deputy, also struck by a passing vehicle during the chase, has been hospitalized, and is in good condition.

Traffic remained slow-moving throughout Thursday night and well into Friday morning in order for deputies to conduct their investigation.

The pursuit began in Palmdale, where deputies made contact with the two suspects. The suspects reportedly then began to fire on the deputies from their vehicle before taking off down the southbound side of Highway 14 at approximately 9:30 p.m..

“During that pursuit the occupants of the suspect vehicle fired several rounds at the airship,” said Lt. Robert Westphal of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau, adding that there were at least two instances on the freeway where the suspects are believed to have shot at pursuing law enforcement. “Also during the pursuit, deputies deployed a spike strip, which partially disabled the suspect vehicle, letting the air out of the front, driver-side tire.”

When the vehicle eventually stopped, one of the suspects he was armed with a TEC-9 semiautomatic handgun, Westphal said during a news conference shortly after the incident.

Deputies fired at the suspect, Westphal said, striking him once in the leg, forcing him to drop his handgun.

The suspect then attempted to flee from deputies on the freeway, running and tumbling down an embankment before he was struck by a vehicle.

“He crossed one direction lane of traffic on the freeway, he scaled the center divider, and attempted to finish crossing the freeway at which time he was struck by a passing vehicle,” said Westphal. “He was transported to a local hospital where he is in stable condition.”

According to homicide detectives, the second suspect exited the vehicle and was detained by deputies, and a second handgun was recovered.

A deputy who was chasing the suspect was struck by a passing vehicle and was transported to the hospital, as well. “He is in good condition,” Westphal said.

Shirley Miller of the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station confirmed that the SCV station had not been involved in the chase and that the injured deputy was not from the SCV Sheriff’s Station.

Deputies said the original broadcast indicated that narcotics were thrown from the vehicle. Westphal said he believed the suspects were white men in their 30s from Northern California, but did not provide an exact city of origin.

“Now, we have to interview a lot of witnesses and interview deputies, crime scenes to process,” said Westphal, adding that the crime scenes are scattered from Santa Clarita to Palmdale. “It’s unfortunately affecting freeway traffic.”

The incident resulted in traffic congestion on the I-5 and Highway 14 into the Friday morning commute. Authorities remained on the scene investigating, blocking multiple lanes of the southbound and northbound I-5 for a number of hours. The Interstate 210 interchange remained closed for an unknown duration while deputies combed various portions of the freeway at different times.

By 5 a.m., all northbound I-5 and southbound Highway 14 and I-5 were reopened.

Officer Moses Marroquin of the California Highway Patrol Traffic Management office said the investigation remains ongoing, and that traffic was heavy. Where the chase reportedly ended, on the transition between the I-5 and I-210 eastbound connector, remained closed while deputies continued their investigation.

A SigAlert had been issued at 11:38 p.m. Thursday night. The SigAlert remained in effect Friday morning, with officials reporting delays of up to two hours.

The SigAlert was canceled at 11:13 a.m. and CHP officials reopened the transition road between the southbound I-5 and eastbound I-210.

“This was an absolutely, out-of-control chase,” said Westphal. “We’re just amazed no one else got injured.”

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