LOS ANGELES (CBSL.com) — As thousands watched a bizarre car chase and barricade situation play out Thursday evening around Orange County and the 91 Freeway, one man watched with special interest.
The driver was in his stolen Mercedes and he watched that driver thrash about recklessly — swiping other cars, crashing into guardrails, driving on rims — doing inestimable damage to the car as he tried to evade authorities.
The Mercedes owner — Mohamad Sukkar — told CBS2’s Tom Wait that watching the chase was surreal.
“My friend calls me and he was like dude I think your car is on TV – I was like – no way – what are you talking about, on TV?”
Sukkar says he bought the car in March and rented it out using an app called Turo but the guy who paid for it did not return the car.
Sukkar never thought he would see the Mercedes again but when it popped up last night, he knew it was his.
“Number one I know my rims, number two I just got the car, it’s new so I had the paper plates on from the dealership. The registration on the bottom right windshield,” Sukkar said.
“I didn’t know what to feel. I didn’t know if I should feel excited or good because I didn’t know where my car was the past 10 days and then all of a sudden I see it on TV,” he says.
Sukkar says the suspect — identified Friday as John Lopez — is the same guy who used the app to rent his Mercedes,
Police believe the Mercedes was involved in a drive-by several nights ago in Miramonte. Detectives are not certain whether Lopez was involved but when they saw the Mercedes in Compton being driven by Lopez they tried to pull him over and he took off. (During the chase, authorities referred to the suspect as a murder and attempted murder suspect.)
Although he technically has the car back, Sukkar doesn’t plan to drive it again.
“Oh my God, the car is gone. I’m not driving that car anymore. After the SWAT team and the tear gas in the car?, Hell no. I don’t want to drive that car anymore,” Sukkar says.
Sukkar is graduating from USC in several months and he says the car being stolen has bee a huge financial blow.
He told Wait he will get the vehicle back but he says it’s certainly not driveable and he won’t be able to rent it.