A brief police pursuit on the 101 Freeway ended in a rollover crash near Echo Park Lake early Friday, leaving three burglary suspects dead and one hospitalized, according to authorities.
The incident began around 4 a.m. when Los Angeles police officers observed a burglary happening at the Shoe Palace store on Sunset Boulevard and Lemoyne Street, about a block away from the lake, Sgt. Barry Montgomery said.
The perpetrators – initially described as robbery suspects by an LAPD official – fled the scene in three separate vehicles, Montgomery said.
Police chased one of them for about three minutes on the northbound 101 Freeway before losing sight of the car. Soon after, officers were alerted to an Infiniti SUV that had slammed into a wall at the Rampart Boulevard onramp to the 101, the sergeant added.
Responding crews arrived to a "grisly" scene, California Highway Patrol Officer Roberto Gomez said.
"To know who was a driver and who was what, I think that's going to be ... a tough call," Gomez said.
The L.A. Fire Department had to extricate the occupants from the SUV. Three of them were pronounced dead on the scene. A fourth person was critically injured and was last listed under stable condition at the hospital, the Fire Department said.
Two of those killed in the crash were identified by the county coroner's office as 29-year-old Deron Calhoun and 27-year-old Jumanee Buard. The third man was in his 20s, but his name was not being released until his family is notified, a coroner's spokeswoman said.
Loved ones who showed up to the scene on Friday morning did not want to talk.
The district manager for Shoe Palace said he was providing police with surveillance video that recorded the burglary. The footage shows as many as 12 people entering the store with bags and filling them with merchandise, he said.
CHP blocked the on- and off-ramps at Rampart Boulevard during the investigation; they were reopened by about 1 p.m.