SANTA MONICA (CBSLA) – An Uber driver who tried to kidnap several customers in Santa Monica was arrested following a pursuit Wednesday night, police said.
Khaled Elsayedsa Ali, 35, of Anaheim, was arrested on kidnapping and felony evading arrest.
According to Santa Monica police, at 6:43 p.m. officers responded to a 911 call from a woman saying her Uber driver was refusing to stop and let her out of the car in the area of 23rd Street and Santa Monica Boulevard.
As officers were responding, they received three more 911 calls from other customers who were believed to have ridden in the same Uber vehicle at some point and had similar accounts. Those three customers had escaped unharmed, police said.
All the callers told dispatchers that the suspect was possibly armed with a handgun and had threatened to kidnap them.
Officers found the suspect car in question, a blue Toyota Prius, and attempted to stop it. However, the Uber driver refused to pull over and a chase ensued through residential streets. The Uber driver had two customers – a man and woman – with him at the time, police said.
During the pursuit, both passengers were able to jump out of the moving vehicle, suffering minor injuries, said Lt. Saul Rodriguez. Paramedics treated them at the scene for scrapes and bruises.
Witness Andy Wasif, who shot cell phone video of the chase while he was trick-or-treating with his niece, told CBS2 he saw the pursuit wind around the same block three times.
“We were worried about the children,” Andy Wasif said.
A Los Angeles police helicopter were brought in to assist in the pursuit and the car was eventually stopped near the intersection of Montana Avenue and Bundy Drive, police said. It’s unclear if a gun was recovered.
On Thursday, meanwhile, Uber and Los Angeles police announced the launch of a new emergency service which could have helped the victims in this situation. The service allows Uber riders in the city of L.A. to alert authorities as to their location.
Beginning Thursday, riders can press an emergency button in the Uber app which immediately sends their location to 911 dispatchers. The information also includes the name of the driver and the car. Once that call disconnects, police will have that information for 10 minutes only before it is purged.
The service works on both Apple and Android.
“We can only obtain information if someone calls 911, we can’t punch in a phone number and access someone’s location just randomly,” LAPD Communications Officer Tod Austen said at a news conference Thursday.
Meanwhile, Ali is being held at the Santa Monica Jail on $100,000 bail. The case is being presented to the L.A. County district attorney’s office.