LOS ANGELES (CNS) - A man wanted on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon led police on a chase in a utility truck in the Arleta area today but was found dead inside the vehicle after he ran over a spike strip and came to a stop on a residential street.
The motorist stopped on Terra Bella Street south of the Golden State (5) Freeway shortly before noon. About 45 minutes later, officers approached the vehicle and found the man -- who was believed to be armed -- dead inside. A small white-and-tan dog that had been on the man's lap during the chase ran from the truck, but remained in the general area, and it was eventually captured by city Animal Control officers.
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The chase began about 11:35 a.m. in the Los Angeles Police Department's Foothill area, said LAPD spokesman Drake Madison. At one point, the motorist drove through the security gate of an apartment complex, knocking down a man reported to be in his 70s. The driver continued through the complex, then drove through another security gate to get back on city streets.
The suspect eventually drove south on the 5 Freeway, exited, then immediately got back on the northbound freeway before exiting again. About 11:50 a.m., the motorist was heading north on Sharp Avenue, just south of the freeway, and then turned left onto Terra Bella Street, where the truck stopped a short time later after running over a spike strip.
Police lined up patrol several cars a few feet behind the truck, and the motorist remained inside the vehicle, along with the small dog. A SWAT team was called to the scene, but officers positioned near the vehicle said the suspect could be seen slumped over in the truck, with blood coming from his nose and neck.
When officers opened the doors of the truck, the man was found dead inside of a self-inflicted gunshot. Police said the man was a known gang member and was wanted for assaulting his ex-girlfriend's new boyfriend.
During the standoff, nearby Beachy Avenue Elementary School was placed on lockdown, along with Pacoima Middle School and Arleta High School, with classes on the campuses continuing. About 1:20 p.m., the lockdowns were lifted, according to the Los Angeles Unified School District.
There was no immediate word on the fate of the small dog, which was expected to be taken to an area animal shelter. It was unclear if the suspect owned the animal.
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