A man wanted for assault with a deadly weapon was dead of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound after leading Los Angeles police on a pursuit on surface streets and freeways in the San Fernando Valley on Wednesday, authorities said.
The pursuit of the white Chevrolet pickup truck ended in an hourlong standoff in Arleta. When authorities finally approached the vehicle, they found the driver dead inside.
“He was a career criminal. He was a gang member,” said Los Angeles Police Department Sgt. Frank Preciado.
LAPD Gang and Narcotics Division officers had been in Burbank following the driver, who was described only as a Hispanic man in his 40s, when he appeared to see them at about 11:15 a.m., Preciado said. The officers identified themselves and drew their weapons, knowing the man to be armed, according to Preciado.
“The suspect … looked in the direction of officers and smiled — and continued to drive away,” Preciado said.
Aerial video showed the 2004 work-type truck on surface streets with police and pursuit. The truck got onto the southbound 5 Freeway, exited at Lanskershim Boulevard and drove through neighborhoods and then returned to the northbound freeway.
The truck then exited in Arleta, and at about 11:53 a.m., the driver stopped in the middle of Terra Bella Street near Arleta Avenue (map) after appearing to hit a spike strip. At least 11 police vehicles stopped behind him.
The motorist appeared to have a small dog on his lap.
The driver had not exited the vehicle after about an hour, and a small group of officers approached the truck behind a shield. They saw he had severe injuries, which appeared to be from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head, Preciado said.
At one point, the dog ran out of the open truck’s door and escaped down the street. After 10 minutes or so, officers tried to capture the animal, which momentarily leapt back into the vehicle.
The animal was eventually retrieved, a tweet from LAPD stated at about 1:45 p.m.
It was not clear if the dog belonged to the driver, police said.
The driver was wanted on a domestic violence-related warrant, Preciado said. About two weeks ago, he allegedly pistol-whipped an ex’s new partner, leading to an arrest warrant for assault with a deadly weapon.
It was not clear if the man was driving his own truck or a company truck. He worked in Burbank, Preciado said.
Three nearby schools were placed on lockdown — Beachy Avenue Elementary, Pacoima Middle School and Arleta High — according to Los Angeles School Police Department.
Liggett Street Elementary was initially on lockdown, but it resumed normal operations, school police announced on Twitter.
#LAPD thanks our animal regulations partners for safely getting dog from pursuit @LAPDFoothill pic.twitter.com/2Z1VOcCaNh
— LAPD HQ (@LAPDHQ) February 11, 2015
KTLA’s Jennifer Thang contributed to this article.