A lengthy overnight police pursuit that began near Mission Valley and ended early Wednesday morning on Interstate 5 in San Onofre turned into a standoff that shut down the freeway for hours before the domestic violence suspect who had led the chase fatally shot himself inside his SUV.
The events that prompted the cross-county pursuit began about 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, when the San Diego Police Department received a call regarding an assault victim in the 3600 block of Central Avenue, SDPD Lt. Carmelin Rivera said.
When detectives contacted her, the 25-year-old woman told them her boyfriend had violently abused her over a two-day period, hitting her on the head with an ax, choking her, tying her up inside his apartment and sexually assaulting her.
“While she was being held captive, he told her that he was going to buy a gun and (that) if the police were called, he would kill her,” Rivera said.
When the alleged assailant left the apartment, the victim — who had suffered two broken ribs, swelling to her face and bruises all over her body — managed to escape and alerted neighbors, who called the police, Rivera said.
About five hours later, patrol officers spotted the suspect’s white BMW X5 on Interstate 15, near Interstate 8. When they tried to pull the man over, he refused to yield and continued heading north.
As police and California Highway Patrol officers pursued the 28-year-old suspect to the north and west, he ran over several spike strips officers had laid out in his path on Interstate 5, near Del Mar Heights Road and Carlsbad Village Drive.
Still, he would not pull over, Rivera said.
About 3:30 a.m., the SUV finally rolled to a stop on Interstate 5 near Cristianitos Road in the far northern reaches of San Diego County, its tires shredded.
The CHP shut down both sides of the freeway as the man hunkered down in his disabled vehicle, refusing to give himself up.
“Officers negotiated with him for about an hour and tried to convince him to surrender,” Rivera said. “Despite the officers’ efforts, the suspect drove off again, crossed into San Clemente, and then (doubled) back southbound on I-5, near the Basilone Road exit.”
There, Orange County sheriff’s deputies in SWAT vehicles were able to box in the suspect’s SUV.
“At about 6:15 a.m., the suspect attempted to drive off again, but the armored vehicles stopped him,” Rivera said. “Before officers could get the man to surrender, he shot himself in the head.”
Paramedics took the suspect to an Orange County hospital, where he was pronounced dead. His name was withheld pending family notification.
The freeway was fully open again at the site of the standoff by 8 a.m., according to the CHP.
Updated at 2:12 a.m. May 27, 2021