DOWNEY (CBSLA.com) — The man, who led police on a chase then took hostages in a Downey restaurant before being killed by Los Angeles County Sheriff’s SWAT deputies Thursday night, has been identified as 41-year-old Eddie Tapia.
Deputies fatally shot the suspect inside Chris’ and Pitt’s barbecue at 9243 Lakewood Boulevard around 7:45 p.m. Thursday.
About 45-minutes before Tapia ran into the restaurant, he led authorities on a high-speed chase that began in an unincorporated area near Whittier. The pursuit went through Monterey Park, Montebello and East Los Angeles.
It ended in Downey when the car he was driving crashed into another vehicle following a PIT maneuver by a California Highway Patrol cruiser. Tapia got out of the vehicle and fired shots into the air as he ran toward the restaurant and took hostages.
According to Diana Olivares, who was one of the hostages, the suspect kept saying he was sorry.
“He said I don’t want to hurt you. I don’t want to hurt you. But I need medicine,” Olivares said. She said he kept waving the gun and telling people to keep quiet.
According to hostage Jerry Arroyo, “That’s when he kinda started pointing the gun towards our direction and said: ‘Get away from the door. Don’t open the door. Get over here.”’
“I didn’t know if he was there to rob the place or what he was doing,” said hostage Robert Adams. He said he and a few other men convinced Tapia to let the women and children go free. And he did. Adams said when Tapia was not looking, he escaped through the front door.
Asked if at any point Adams thought Tapia was going to shoot him, Adams said: “Yeah, as I was running out the door, he could have just shot me in the back.”
At this point, SWAT deputies had the restaurant surrounded. When they stormed into the building, they ordered Tapia to put down his weapon. He refused.
That’s when deputies shot and killed the suspect, according to Cmdr. Mike Parker. By then, there were only four hostages, all men, left inside the restaurant. They were not hurt.
Tapia was pronounced dead at the scene. He was accused of stealing a car and carjacking a second vehicle Thursday night.
CBS2/KCAL9 Investigative Reporter David Goldstein dug into Tapia’s background and discovered he has been in and out of prison for much of the last 17 years, and he was released from jail more than three months ago.
The letters “CB” in the photo of his mug shot, taken in 2014, stand for ‘county boarder’—meaning he was serving county time in a state prison. Among the crimes of which Tapia was convicted were evading police while driving recklessly and auto theft. He was released from jail in May after serving a year and a half for grand theft.
Tapia spent eight years and five months of the last 15 years behind bars.
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