RIVERSIDE (CBSLA) – An armed suspect is dead after a pursuit that began in Hemet and ended amid gunfire in a busy shopping area in Riverside Friday night.
The incident began at about 7:30 p.m., when Hemet police went to the home of a man to investigate a report that shots had been fired in a field earlier in the week.
While in the area, officers noticed the suspect’s Chrysler convertible in the area of Kirby Street and Devonshire Avenue. When officers tried to conduct a traffic stop, the car sped away, prompting a pursuit.
The chase wound its way westbound on Devonshire and south onto California Avenue. While driving on California Avenue, police said, the suspect fired multiple shots at the pursuing officers.
The pursuit then made its way into the city of Riverside, where Riverside police took over.
“We believe that at least twice during the pursuit, out in either their city or the county, that the suspect fired shots at the pursuing officers,” Riverside police spokesman Ryan Railsback told reporters.
No officers were injured. The pursuit came to an end in the area of California and Arlington avenues, which is near several stores, including a Sears and a Ross Dress for Less.
Witness Marie Lua was driving in the area with her family when she their car got caught up in the midst of the chase.
“We were driving down Arlington, and we just saw probably 15, 20 cop cars just pass us,” Lua said.
Lua said she watched as gunfire erupted.
“I had my 5-year-old child in the car, there was nothing I could do,” Lua said. “So we just stopped our vehicle and pretty much just watched everyone shoot at him, and I don’t know if he shot back.”
The suspect was found dead in his car at the conclusion of the pursuit. His name was not released. It’s unclear if he died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound or was killed by police.
“It’s unsafe, and they could have went about it in kind of a safer way, before he actually hit traffic and they started shooting, while he was still in motion,” Lua said.
The investigation into the case is ongoing.