The driver of a motor home was at large after leading authorities on a chase from Mid-City in Los Angeles to Kern County Tuesday with his two children on board, according to authorities.
Deputies started pursuing the motor home at around 2:30 p.m. in the Mid-City area, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said.
The agency identified the suspect as 46-year-old Stephen Houk, a convicted sex offender who is believed to be armed. He remained at large after fleeing the motor home in Shafter, just outside of Bakersfield, around 7:40 p.m.
His two children—3 years old and 11 months old— were rescued by authorities after the pursuit ended. They were “in motion” to be reunited with their mother Tuesday evening, according to the Sheriff’s Department.
Houk is on parole for a sex offense and a registered sex offender in Oregon, according to the agency. He’s now wanted for evasion, child abduction, child endangerment and weapons violations, the Sheriff’s Department said.
California Highway Patrol Officer Kevin Tao said the driver had a dispute with the children’s mother, his wife, earlier in the day, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Tao said the woman communicated with the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department and spoke with the suspect on the phone as he was driving, according to the paper.
She tried to persuade her husband to pull over, Tao said.
Los Angeles police later assumed command of the chase, according to the Sheriff’s Department.
The driver led LAPD through narrow side streets in Hollywood before getting on the 101 Freeway, aerial video from Sky5 showed.
By 2:55 p.m., the driver was in North Hollywood on the northbound 170 Freeway. Traffic was light in the area, and the driver was driving relatively slowly in the fast lane of the highway, aerial video showed.
CHP took over when the driver traveled north on Interstate 5, the Sheriff’s Department said.
He continued to evade CHP officers in Sylmar at 3 p.m, aerial video showed.
CHP said the circumstances affected their response to the chase.
“There’s so many factors that the officers have to take into consideration, and with that child in the vehicle, they kind of have their hands tied and we’re going to have to see where this goes,” CHP Officer Siara Lund told KTLA.
By about 3:30 p.m., the driver was nearing Pyramid Lake, where rain was falling on the curving roadway. Sky5 had to turn back to avoid unsafe, weather-related flying conditions.
The suspect was traveling through Kern County as of 4:15 p.m., according to the L.A. Times.
Video taken at the scene around 6:30 p.m. shows the motor home stopped in Shafter, surrounded by authorities.